People with diabetes are known to be at higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, the interaction between the two diseases is not well understood. A French study published 10/27/2009 just found that Alzheimer’s progresses more slowly in people who have diabetes. An article on DiabetesHealth.com says:
“Diabetes is thought to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, possibly because of vascular damage in the brain that mimics the dementia seen with Alzheimer’s. But once patients display symptoms of the disease, the current study suggests that the progression is slower than in people without diabetes. … One complication may be that the medications used to help control blood sugar have a protective effect on the brain….”
Most of us have heard of neurons. But have you ever heard of glial cells? They make up almost 90% of the brain, and science is beginning to explore what they do and how they might contribute to thought. Originally thought to simply be the “brick and mortar” that insulated neurons, glial cells are now known to communicate with each other and with neurons,. They can produce neurotransmitters, and they appear to be essential for forming new neurons and connections between neurons. Who knew?
Scientific American interviewed Andrew Koob (Ph.D. is neuroscience from Purdue University) about glial cells and why they orginally got no respect.