Washington DC: A new study has suggested that Diabetes and the buildup of tangles or tau in the brain may be linked independently of Alzheimer's disease.
Study author Velandai Srikanth said that evidence shows that people with type 2 diabetes have double the risk of developing dementia and this interesting development further defines how the diseases may be connected.
The study looked at the relationship between type 2 diabetes, the loss of brain cells and their connections, the levels of beta amyloid and tangles of protein in the spinal fluid of the participants.
The study found that those with diabetes had on average 16 picograms per milliliter greater levels of the tau protein in the spinal and brain fluid irrespective of the diagnosis of dementia. Greater levels of tau in spinal fluid may reflect a greater build-up of tangles in the brain. These tangles may eventually contribute to the development of dementia.
It also found that diabetes was associated with a reduced thickness of the cortex, the layer of the brain with most nerve cells. People with diabetes had cortical tissue that was an average of 0.03 millimeter less than those who did not have diabetes, whether they had no thinking and memory problems, mild cognitive impairment or dementia due to Alzheimer's disease. The buildup of tangles may contribute to this loss of brain tissue.
Srikanth noted that because the study looked at participants' data at one point in time, it does not determine whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship between diabetes and the brain tangles.
The study appears online in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.