Insulin and neurodegenerative disease: shared and specific mechanisms

Lancet Neurol. 2004 Mar;3(3):169-78. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(04)00681-7.


Insulin has functions in the brain and dysregulation of these functions may contribute to the expression of late-life neurodegenerative disease. We provide a brief summary of research on the influence of insulin on normal brain function. We then review evidence that perturbation of this role may contribute to the symptoms and pathogenesis of various neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease. We conclude by considering whether insulin dysregulation contributes to neurodegenerative disorders through disease-specific or general mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / metabolism
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Receptor, Insulin / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Insulin
  • Receptor, Insulin