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The Role of IGF-1 Receptor and Insulin Receptor Signaling for the Pathogenesis of Alzheimer's Disease: From Model Organisms to Human Disease

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In different clinical studies, an association of type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease (AD) has been described. However, the underlying mechanisms are still unclear. One explanation could be that vascular complications of diabetes result in neurodegeneration. Alternatively, the mechanism might be directly related to insulin and insulin-like growth factor( IGF)-1 signaling, leading to the proposal that AD is a “brain-type diabetes”. Furthermore, postmortem analyses of brains from patients with AD revealed a markedly downregulated expression of insulin receptor (IR), IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R), insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-1 and IRS-2, and these changes progress with severity of neurodegeneration. These findings raise the question, whether this phenomenon is cause or consequence of neurodegeneration. Recently, Cohen and coworkers have show that knocking down DAF-2 in C. elegans, the homolog of the mammalian IR/IGF-1R, reduces β-amyloid(Aβ)1-42 toxicity. Cell based experiments suggest a specific role for the IGF-1/IRS-2 signaling pathway in regulating α-/β-secretase activity. Moreover circulating IGF-1 might influence Aβ clearance from the brain by promoting Aβ transport over the blood brain barrier. Interestingly, brain specific deletion of IRS-2 increases life span, suggesting that long term neuronal IGF-1R signaling might be harmful. Taken together, the data from humans and different model organisms indicate a role of IR/IGF-1R signaling in Aβ metabolism, and clearance as well as longevity. Since more studies are needed to elucidate the impact of insulin and/or IGF-1 treatment in AD, the time to propose these hormones as a potential treatment option for AD has not come yet.





Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; IGF-1 receptor; Insulin receptor

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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  • Current Alzheimer Research publishes peer-reviewed frontier review and research articles on all areas of Alzheimer's disease. This multidisciplinary journal will help in understanding the neurobiology, genetics, pathogenesis, and treatment strategies of Alzheimer's disease. The journal publishes objective reviews written by experts and leaders actively engaged in research using cellular, molecular, and animal models. The journal also covers original articles on recent research in fast emerging areas of molecular diagnostics, brain imaging, drug development and discovery, and clinical aspects of Alzheimer's disease. Manuscripts are encouraged that relate to the synergistic mechanism of Alzheimer's disease with other dementia and neurodegenerative disorders. Book reviews, meeting reports and letters-to-the-editor are also published. The journal is essential reading for researchers, educators and physicians with interest in age-related dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Current Alzheimer Research provides a comprehensive 'bird's-eye view' of the current state of Alzheimer's research for neuroscientists, clinicians, health science planners, granting, caregivers and families of this devastating disease.
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