Shared (epi)genomic background connecting neurodegenerative diseases and type 2 diabetes

World J Diabetes. 2020 May 15;11(5):155-164. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v11.i5.155.


The progressive aging of populations has resulted in an increased prevalence of chronic pathologies, especially of metabolic, neurodegenerative and movement disorders. In particular, type 2 diabetes (T2D), Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD) are among the most prevalent age-related, multifactorial pathologies that deserve particular attention, given their dramatic impact on patient quality of life, their economic and social burden as well the etiopathogenetic mechanisms, which may overlap in some cases. Indeed, the existence of common triggering factors reflects the contribution of mutual genetic, epigenetic and environmental features in the etiopathogenetic mechanisms underlying T2D and AD/PD. On this subject, this review will summarize the shared (epi)genomic features that characterize these complex pathologies. In particular, genetic variants and gene expression profiles associated with T2D and AD/PD will be discussed as possible contributors to determine the susceptibility and progression to these disorders. Moreover, potential shared epigenetic modifications and factors among T2D, AD and PD will also be illustrated. Overall, this review shows that findings from genomic studies still deserves further research to evaluate and identify genetic factors that directly contribute to the shared etiopathogenesis. Moreover, a common epigenetic background still needs to be investigated and characterized. The evidences discussed in this review underline the importance of integrating large-scale (epi)genomic data with additional molecular information and clinical and social background in order to finely dissect the complex etiopathogenic networks that build up the "disease interactome" characterizing T2D, AD and PD.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Disease interactome; Epigenomic background; Genetic variants; Metabolism; Neurodegeneration; Neuroinflammation; Parkinson’s disease; Type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review