Differential effects of diet- and genetically-induced brain insulin resistance on amyloid pathology in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

Mol Neurodegener. 2019 Apr 12;14(1):15. doi: 10.1186/s13024-019-0315-7.


Background: Based on epidemiological and experimental studies, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), especially insulin resistance that comprises the core mechanism of T2DM, has been recognized as a significant risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Studies in humans and diabetic AD model mice have indicated a correlation between insulin resistance and increased amyloid deposition in the brain. Paradoxically, mice with targeted disruption of genes involved in the insulin signaling pathway showed protective effects against the AD-related pathology. These conflicting observations raise an issue as to the relationship between dysregulation of insulin signaling and AD pathophysiology.

Methods: To study the causal relations and molecular mechanisms underlying insulin resistance-induced exacerbation of amyloid pathology, we investigated the chronological changes in the development of insulin resistance and amyloid pathology in two independent insulin-resistant AD mouse models, i.e., long-term high-fat diet (HFD) feeding and genetic disruption of Irs2, in combination with dietary interventions. In addition to biochemical and histopathological analyses, we examined the in vivo dynamics of brain amyloid-β (Aβ) and insulin by microdialysis technique.

Results: HFD-fed diabetic AD model mice displayed a reduced brain response to peripheral insulin stimulation and a decreased brain to plasma ratio of insulin during the hyperinsulinemic clamp. Diet-induced defective insulin action in the brain was accompanied by a decreased clearance of the extracellular Aβ in vivo and an exacerbation of brain amyloid pathology. These noxious effects of the HFD both on insulin sensitivity and on Aβ deposition in brains were reversibly attenuated by dietary interventions. Importantly, HFD feeding accelerated Aβ deposition also in the brains of IRS-2-deficient AD mice.

Conclusions: Our results suggested a causal and reversible association of brain Aβ metabolism and amyloid pathology by diet-dependent, but not genetically-induced, insulin-resistance. These observations raise the possibility that the causal factors of insulin resistance, e.g., metabolic stress or inflammation induced by HFD feeding, but not impaired insulin signaling per se, might be directly involved in the acceleration of amyloid pathology in the brain.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Aβ; Dietary intervention; Insulin resistance; Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism
  • Amyloidogenic Proteins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Mice, Transgenic


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Amyloidogenic Proteins
  • Insulin