Diabetes can impact cholesterol synthesis in the brain: Study

Washington: A new study from the Joslin Diabetes Center suggests that diabetes can affect how much cholesterol the brain can make.

The brain contains more cholesterol than any other organ in the body, has to produce its own cholesterol and won’t function normally if it doesn’t churn out enough.

C. Ronald Kahn and colleagues found that brain cholesterol synthesis, the only source of cholesterol for the brain, drops in several mouse models of diabetes.

"Since cholesterol is required by neurons to form synapses (connections) with other cells, this decrease in cholesterol could affect how nerves function for appetite regulation, behavior, memory and even pain and motor activity," said Kahn.

In addition to its potential role in Alzheimer``s disease and other forms of neurological dysfunction, the newly discovered mechanism may play a role in diabetic neuropathy.

People with diabetes are also known to be more prone to depression, memory loss and eating disorders than people without diabetes, and imaging studies have shown that people with diabetes have altered brain function compared to those without.

Scientists found decreased expression for almost all of the genes of cholesterol synthesis, including a gene called SREBP-2, which acts as a master regulator for cholesterol production.

Additionally, the Joslin work showed a connection between the decrease in brain cholesterol synthesis and appetite – low cholesterol creation resulted in increased appetite and weight.

The work was reported online in the journal Cell Metabolism on November 30.