Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disease characterised by insulin resistance with hyperglycaemia and dyslipidaemia. It is associated with increased risk of stroke and vascular dementia, and might contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease. Recent studies have shown that several antidiabetic drugs can promote neuronal survival and lead to a significant clinical improvement of memory and cognition in different clinical settings. We discuss these emerging data, with a focus on metformin, thiazolidinediones, and the more recently developed compounds targeting the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor. Data show that these antidiabetic drugs affect brain metabolism, neuroinflammation, and regeneration. Evidence thus far strongly indicates that these antidiabetic drugs could be developed as disease-modifying therapies for human brain diseases in patients with and without diabetes.
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