Common mechanisms involved in Alzheimer's disease and type 2 diabetes: a key role of chronic bacterial infection and inflammation

Aging (Albany NY). 2016 Apr;8(4):575-88. doi: 10.18632/aging.100921.


Strong epidemiologic evidence and common molecular mechanisms support an association between Alzheimer's disease (AD) and type 2-diabetes. Local inflammation and amyloidosis occur in both diseases and are associated with periodontitis and various infectious agents. This article reviews the evidence for the presence of local inflammation and bacteria in type 2 diabetes and discusses host pathogen interactions in chronic inflammatory disorders. Chlamydophyla pneumoniae, Helicobacter pylori and spirochetes are demonstrated in association with dementia and brain lesions in AD and islet lesions in type 2 diabetes. The presence of pathogens in host tissues activates immune responses through Toll-like receptor signaling pathways. Evasion of pathogens from complement-mediated attack results in persistent infection, inflammation and amyloidosis. Amyloid beta and the pancreatic amyloid called amylin bind to lipid bilayers and produce Ca(2+) influx and bacteriolysis. Similarly to AD, accumulation of amylin deposits in type 2 diabetes may result from an innate immune response to chronic bacterial infections, which are known to be associated with amyloidosis. Further research based on an infectious origin of both AD and type 2 diabetes may lead to novel treatment strategies.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Chlamydia pneumoniae; Diabetes type 2; Helicobacter pylori; amyloid; infection; inflammation; spirochetes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / etiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / immunology
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology
  • Bacterial Infections / pathology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / immunology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / pathology