Certain diabetes drugs may reduce risk of Alzheimer's disease

A new study has shown that certain diabetes medications may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

The researchers found that people who took dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors, which are prescribed to those with type 2 diabetes to help control their blood sugar when other drugs do not work, had less amyloid in the brain, a biomarker of Alzheimer's disease, when compared to both type 2 diabetics not taking the drugs and people without diabetes.

"People with diabetes have been shown to have a higher risk of Alzheimer's disease, possibly due to high blood sugar levels, which have been linked to the build-up of amyloid-beta in the brain," said study author Phil Hyu Lee, MD, PhD, of Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea. "Not only did our study show that people taking dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors to lower blood sugar levels had less amyloid in their brains overall, it also showed lower levels in areas of the brain involved in Alzheimer's disease."

The study, which involved 282 participants who were followed for up to six years, also found that people taking these drugs, also known as gliptins, showed slower cognitive decline than people in the other two groups.

"Our results showing less amyloid in the brains of people taking these medications and less cognitive decline, when compared to people without diabetes raises the possibility that these medications may also be beneficial for people without diabetes who have thinking and memory problems," said Lee. "More research is needed to demonstrate whether these drugs may have neuroprotective properties in all people."

The study was published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.