March 2024 Newsletter

In recent years, the concept of diabetes has expanded beyond the well-known Type 1 and Type 2 classifications.

A growing body of research suggests the existence of a third form of diabetes, often referred to as Type 3 diabetes.

This emerging understanding challenges conventional notions of the disease and underscores the intricate relationship between metabolic health and neurological function.

Type 3 diabetes is commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterised by cognitive decline and memory impairment.

The term ‘Type 3 diabetes’ was first proposed to describe the link between insulin resistance in the brain and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies have shown that individuals with diabetes, particularly Type 2 diabetes, have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to those without diabetes.

This association suggests a shared pathological mechanism involving insulin signalling dysfunction, glucose metabolism impairment, and the accumulation of amyloid-beta plaques in the brain.

Insulin, traditionally known for its role in regulating blood sugar levels, also plays a crucial role in brain function.

In the brain, insulin helps with neuronal survival, synaptic plasticity, and memory formation.

When insulin signalling is disrupted, as seen in diabetes, it can lead to neuronal damage and cognitive dysfunction, contributing to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Furthermore, insulin resistance in the brain impairs the brain’s ability to utilise glucose efficiently, leading to energy deficits and oxidative stress, which are hallmark features of Alzheimer’s disease.

This dysregulation of glucose metabolism exacerbates neuro-inflammation and contributes to the formation of neurofibrillary tangles, another pathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

The recognition of Type 3 diabetes underscores the importance of considering the brain’s role in metabolic disorders and vice versa.

It highlights the interconnectedness of various organ systems and emphasises the need for a holistic approach to managing diabetes and its associated complications.

In terms of treatment, strategies aimed at improving insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism may have potential benefits for both diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Lifestyle modifications, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and weight management, are essential components of diabetes management and may also help mitigate the risk of cognitive decline.