Identifying Alzheimer’s development in Type 2 diabetes mellitus patients

Written by Alice Weatherston

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is an age-associated disorder, with T2DM patients also exhibiting a significantly increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Identifying biomarkers that can successfully predict the conversion of T2DM into Alzheimer’s disease may therefore provide an efficient method for initiating early intervention for patients. This was the basis of a new study published recently in EBioMedicine by researchers from Huazhong University of Science and Technology (Hubei, China).
Jian-Zhi Wang (Huazhong University of Science and Technology), lead author of the study, explained their belief that current diagnostics for Alzheimer’s disease are reliant on often subjective cognitive tests or expensive and sometimes invasive imaging or cerebrospinal fluid analysis, leaving an urgent need for the development of objective, noninvasive, affordable and readily-accessible biomarkers for early diagnosis of the disease.

In a multicenter, retrospective, nested case-control study taking place over 4 and half years, the research team discovered that the activation of the peripheral circulating GSK-3β, dysfunction of the olfactory function, expression of ApoE ε4 and aging are indicators for mild cognitive impairment in T2DM patients. Using a combination of these identifiers further improves diagnostic accuracy.

In addition to this, a protocol for the measurement of the total and the inactivated form of GSK3β in human platelets was developed. The method is simple, low cost and illustrated good repeatability making it suitable for application in clinical laboratories.

The findings help to highlight the potential for early Alzheimer’s diagnosis in the T2DM population and consequently early intervention. Looking forward, Jian-Zhi Wang commented: “although we have designed training set and validation set respectively to assure the correlation of cognitive impairments with the aforementioned biomarkers, further longitudinal studies are needed to confirm how informative these biomarkers in predicting the conversion of T2DM into Alzheimer’s disease.”

Source: Medical News Today press release