The jury is still out as to what exactly causes the brain changes that lead to Alzheimer’s. We know that there is an accumulation of beta-amyloid, a faulty protein that accumulates in the brain of patients with the disease and that this is most likely the cause of symptoms. A new study has revealed a possible link between high blood sugar and the speed at which this faulty protein is produced. This could provide further insight into what causes the disease in the first place.

In previous experiments scientists have pointed to diabetes as a possible contributing factor in developing Alzheimer’s. But now researchers at the School of Medicine at Washington University in St Louis have reported in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, that their might be a link between high blood sugar itself and beta-amyloid production.

The team used young mice, bred to develop an Alzheimer like condition and infused them with glucose. They found that this led to faster production of beta-amyloid in their brains.  A doubling of the glucose led to 20% higher levels of beta-amyloid compared to mice that had normal blood glucose levels. This experiment was repeated in older mice and the effect was even more pronounced with a 40% increase in beta-amyloid.  When they looked at the result in more detail it seems that a sudden elevation in blood sugar increased brain activity, which in turn led to more beta-amyloid prodyction, which could potentially encourage the development of Alzheimer’s.

The researchers concluded that ” diabetes, or other conditions that make it hard to control blood sugar levels, can have harmful effects on brain function and exacerbate neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s”

The hope is that this discovery could help solve the puzzle of how and why Alzheimer’s develops and hopefully lead to new treatments for this devastating disease. It seems that there is more and more evidence building to support the theory that sugar lies at the root cause of many ailments and that limiting intake of sugar can only be a good thing.