Palmitate and glucose increase amyloid precursor protein in extracellular vesicles: Missing link between metabolic syndrome and Alzheimer's disease

J Extracell Vesicles. 2023 Nov;12(11):e12340. doi: 10.1002/jev2.12340.


The metabolic syndrome (MetS) and Alzheimer's disease share several pathological features, including insulin resistance, abnormal protein processing, mitochondrial dysfunction and elevated inflammation and oxidative stress. The MetS constitutes elevated fasting glucose, obesity, dyslipidaemia and hypertension and increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, but the precise mechanism remains elusive. Insulin resistance, which develops from a diet rich in sugars and saturated fatty acids, such as palmitate, is shared by the MetS and Alzheimer's disease. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are also a point of convergence, with altered dynamics in both the MetS and Alzheimer's disease. However, the role of palmitate- and glucose-induced insulin resistance in the brain and its potential link through EVs to Alzheimer's disease is unknown. We demonstrate that palmitate and high glucose induce insulin resistance and amyloid precursor protein phosphorylation in primary rat embryonic cortical neurons and human cortical stem cells. Palmitate also triggers insulin resistance in oligodendrocytes, the supportive glia of the brain. Palmitate and glucose enhance amyloid precursor protein secretion from cortical neurons via EVs, which induce tau phosphorylation when added to naïve neurons. Additionally, EVs from palmitate-treated oligodendrocytes enhance insulin resistance in recipient neurons. Overall, our findings suggest a novel theory underlying the increased risk of Alzheimer's disease in MetS mediated by EVs, which spread Alzheimer's pathology and insulin resistance.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; amyloid precursor protein; diabetes; extracellular vesicles; insulin resistance; metabolic syndrome; obesity; tau.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Extracellular Vesicles* / metabolism
  • Glucose
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Metabolic Syndrome* / complications
  • Palmitates
  • Rats


  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Glucose
  • Palmitates