UTSW Study Links Alzheimer’s-Related Protein To Diabetes And Obesity – KERA News

January 22nd, 2020 4:45 pm

A new study found a protein linked to Alzheimers Disease also contributes to problems with diabetes and obesity.

Its called the amyloid precursor protein or APP. Thats the same amyloid believed to form plaque that may cause cognitive decline. The study, published in Nature Metabolism, found APP occurs in far higher levels in the fat cells of mice and humans who are obese.

The studys senior author is Dr. Philipp Scherer of UT Southwestern Medical Centers Touchstone Center for Diabetes Research. Scherer talked with KERA about how APP causes problems in the bodys fat cells.

The KERA Interview with Dr. Philipp Scherer


The Link Between APP And Diabetes

It turns out that high fat diets actually lead to the production of APP within the fat cell themselves. Then as the fat cell becomes challenged and less functional, we actually progress towards a type 2 diabetic state where we have high levels of insulin resistance.

The Diabetes Of The Brain

What's interesting is that we know from the Alzheimer's field that there is an association between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. You sometimes hear Alzheimer's disease is the diabetes of the brain. This is based on the fact that the nerve cells become insulin resistant. We have high sugar levels in the brain that can actually enhance the formation of these plaques.

Even though we don't have plaque formation in our fat tissue, the very fact that the induction of APP can actually lead to this high level of dysfunction of our fat tissue is an interesting new spin, and we can certainly now also check in the brain whether or not a similar mechanism is associated with that neurodegeneration.

Perhaps Another Clue To What May Cause Alzheimers

We certainly have gained a lot of insights into what actually leads to the problems that we see in our fat tissue as we gain weight but I think we can also learn the lesson for the brain from this.

What we now see in the fat cells could actually also potentially apply to our nerve cells in the brain. They may actually engage in an energetic deficit, because within the nerve cells this APP protein may mislocalize and cause similar troubles that it causes in adipose (fat) tissue.


APP Study

UT Southwestern: Protein associated with Alzheimer's also causes dysfunction in fat cells, increasing obesity, diabetes risk

What Is Alzheimers Disease?

American Diabetes Association

Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

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UTSW Study Links Alzheimer's-Related Protein To Diabetes And Obesity - KERA News

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