A metabolic perspective of late onset Alzheimer's disease

Pharmacol Res. 2019 Jul;145:104255. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2019.104255. Epub 2019 May 7.


After decades of research, the molecular neuropathology of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is still one of the hot topics in biomedical sciences. Some studies suggest that soluble amyloid β (Aβ) oligomers act as causative agents in the development of AD and could be initiators of its complex neurodegenerative cascade. On the other hand, there is also evidence pointing to Aβ oligomers as mere aggravators, with an arguable role in the origin of the disease. In this line of research, the relative contribution of soluble Aβ oligomers to neuronal damage associated with metabolic disorders such as Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) and obesity is being actively investigated. Some authors have proposed the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the induction of the unfolded protein response (UPR) as important mechanisms leading to an increase in Aβ production and the activation of neuroinflammatory processes. Following this line of thought, these mechanisms could also cause cognitive impairment. The present review summarizes the current understanding on the neuropathological role of Aβ associated with metabolic alterations induced by an obesogenic high fat diet (HFD) intake. It is believed that the combination of these two elements has a synergic effect, leading to the impairement of ER and mitochondrial functions, glial reactivity status alteration and inhibition of insulin receptor (IR) signalling. All these metabolic alterations would favour neuronal malfunction and, eventually, neuronal death by apoptosis, hence causing cognitive impairment and laying the foundations for late-onset AD (LOAD). Moreover, since drugs enhancing the activation of cerebral insulin pathway can constitute a suitable strategy for the prevention of AD, we also discuss the scope of therapeutic approaches such as intranasal administration of insulin in clinical trials with AD patients.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Insulin; Licochalcone A; Neuroinflammation; Reticulum stress; Type 2 diabetes mellitus; c-Jun N-terminal kinase inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy
  • Alzheimer Disease / etiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Ceramides / metabolism
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Ceramides