Lipids are a diverse class of hydrophobic and amphiphilic molecules which make up the bulk of most biological systems and are essential for human life. The role of lipids in health and disease has been recognized for many decades, as evidenced by the early identification of cholesterol as an important risk factor of heart disease and the development and introduction of statins as a one of the most successful therapeutic interventions to date. While several studies have demonstrated an increased risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease (AD), in those with diabetes mellitus, the nature of this risk is not well understood. Recent developments in the field of lipidomics, driven primarily by technological advances in high pressure liquid chromatography and particularly mass spectrometry, have enabled the detailed characterization of the many hundreds of individual lipid species in mammalian systems and their association with disease states. Diabetes mellitus and AD have received particular attention due to their prominence in Western societies as a result of the ongoing obesity epidemic and the aging populations. In this review, we examine how these lipidomic studies are informing on the relationship between lipid metabolism with diabetes and AD and how this may inform on the common pathological pathways that link diabetes risk with dementia.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; diabetes mellitus; lipid metabolism; mass spectrometry; risk.