The role of glucose transporters in brain disease: diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease

Int J Mol Sci. 2012 Oct 3;13(10):12629-55. doi: 10.3390/ijms131012629.


The occurrence of altered brain glucose metabolism has long been suggested in both diabetes and Alzheimer’s diseases. However, the preceding mechanism to altered glucose metabolism has not been well understood. Glucose enters the brain via glucose transporters primarily present at the blood-brain barrier. Any changes in glucose transporter function and expression dramatically affects brain glucose homeostasis and function. In the brains of both diabetic and Alzheimer’s disease patients, changes in glucose transporter function and expression have been observed, but a possible link between the altered glucose transporter function and disease progress is missing. Future recognition of the role of new glucose transporter isoforms in the brain may provide a better understanding of brain glucose metabolism in normal and disease states. Elucidation of clinical pathological mechanisms related to glucose transport and metabolism may provide common links to the etiology of these two diseases. Considering these facts, in this review we provide a current understanding of the vital roles of a variety of glucose transporters in the normal, diabetic and Alzheimer’s disease brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus / pathology*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative / genetics
  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative / metabolism*
  • Humans


  • Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative
  • Glucose