Published on March 7, 2005 at 7:42 AM
By looking at postmortem brain tissue from people diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, researchers discovered that growth factors are not produced at normal levels in the hippocampus – the part of the brain responsible for memory. The absence of these growth factors, in turn, causes cells in other parts of the brain to die. Reserachers found that insulin and IGF I were significantly reduced in the frontal cortex, hippocampus and hypothalamus – all areas that are affected by the progression of Alzheimer's. Conversely, in the cerebellum, which is generally not affected by Alzheimer's, scientists did not see the same drop in insulin and IGF I.
"Now that scientists have pinpointed insulin and its growth factors as contributors to Alzheimer's, this opens the way for targeted treatment to the brain and changes the way we view Alzheimer's disease," de la Monte says.