Alzheimer's Disease and other Dementias

Insulin, Nasal Spray and Alzheimer's

A form of insulin delivered via nasal spray could help improve memory and other cognitive functions in adults with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

The researchers looked at 60 adults diagnosed with amnesic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia (AD).  According to a news release from the medical center, the subjects who got nasally-administered 40 international unit (IU) doses of insulin detemir, a manufactured form of the hormone, for 21 days showed significant improvement in their short-term ability to retain and process verbal and visual information compared with those who received 20 IU does or a placebo.

The investigators also said that the recipients of 40 IU doses who were carrying the APOE-e4 gene – which is known to increase the risk for Alzheimer’s – recorded significantly higher memory scores than those who received the loser dosage or placebo.

Earlier research had indicated the possible use of nasally administered insulin for adults with AD and MCI, but this newest study is the first to use insulin detemir, whose effects are longer-lasting than those of insulin.

“The study provides preliminary evidence that insulin detemir can provide effective treatment for people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s-related dementia similar to our previous work with regular insulin,” said Suzanne Craft, Ph.D., professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study, which was published in theJournal of Alzheimer’s Disease. “We are also especially encouraged that we were able to improve memory for adults with MCI who have the APOE-e4 gene, as these patients are notoriously resistant to other therapies and interventions.”

The researchers said there were only minor negative side effects.

“Alzheimer’s is a devastating illness, for which even small therapeutic gains have the potential to improve quality of life and significantly reduce the overall burden for patients, families and society,” Craft said. “Future studies are warranted to examine the safety and efficacy of this promising treatment.”

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