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Metformin May Up Alzheimer's Protein if Used Alone

Posted Jun 10 2009 6:43pm
Although diabetes mellitus is associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, a new study suggests that metformin, a drug used to treat diabetes, may also increase the risk for developing Alzheimer’s. This finding raises concern in diabetic patients who have been taking metformin for years. Metformin is the mainstay oral therapy for diabetes and in 2006 there were 35 million prescriptions filled for generic metformin in the United States. Cognitive decline in diabetic patients taking metformin by itself is believed to be caused by the increase in beta amyloid proteins, the primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease. These proteins have been found to promote the loss of surface of insulin receptors.
Based on these early animal studies and further investigation, it is being suggested that when metformin, an insulin sensitizing drug, is given together with insulin, it can reduce the increased risk of Alzhemier’s disease by decreasing the development of neuritic plaques in the brain. This protection is triggered when the brain is exposed to insulin and insulin sensitizers at the same time.
This preliminary study has revealed some insight into diabetes and its link with the development of Alzheimer’s Disease, however, there is not enough clinical evidence for physicians to be too concerned with when treating their diabetic patients with metformin. Consultant Pharmacists should consider this when working up patients with signs of dementia. Currently, randomized controlled trials still need to be conducted along with more research for the link to be confirmed.
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