Richard G. Petty, MD

Linking Depression, Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease

It has been known for many years that Alzheimer’s disease and depression are associated with type 2 diabetes. Good control of blood glucose may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and depression, while treating depression may improve metabolic control.

Decreased levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) have also been implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease and depression, and animal models have suggested that BDNF may play a role in insulin resistance.

So a group of scientists at The Centre of Inflammation and Metabolism, Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, decided to see whether BDNF plays a role in human glucose metabolism.

In the first study they looked at 233 people and found that BDNF was inversely associated with fasting plasma glucose, but not with insulin. In a second smaller study they did what are known as hyperglycemic and a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp studies, that allowed them to look at the relationships between BDNF, glucose and insulin. What they found was that output of BDNF from the brain was inhibited when blood glucose levels were elevated.

So it seems that low levels of BDNF accompany impaired glucose metabolism. Decreased BDNF may be a factor involved not only in dementia and depression, but also in type 2 diabetes, and it may be the missing link that explains the way in which the three conditions cluster together in epidemiological studies

This link between a chemical produced in the brain and diabetes is not altogether unexpected. The French physiologist Claude Bernard demonstrated that stimulation of the fourth ventricle of the brain caused glucose to rise, and it was later found that opiates put into this region of the brain could do the same thing.

This study reinforced the close links between metabolism and the brain, and gives us another reason for recommending that as we get older we must ensure that out glucose remains stable and that we do not become depressed.

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.


2 Responses to “Linking Depression, Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease”
  1. Dorothee Krien says:

    Alzheimr’s is caused by mercury, mainly from dental amalgam tooth filling. Mercury interferes with a lot of enzymes and the pancreas is especially sensitive to toxins,
    See research by Joachim Mutter and Boyd Haley.
    Promoting factors are monsodium glutamte (MSG) and fluoride, especially in combination with aluminium.


    Cork, Ireland

  2. Joe says:

    Alzheimer’s is a deficiency of anti-oxidants. It did not exist before 1900, when people are real food.

    See the Zandi PP, Anthony JC, Khachaturian AS, et al. Reduced risk of Alzheimer disease in users of antioxidant vitamin supplements: the Cache County Study. Arch Neurol. 2004 Jan; 61(1): 82-8.

    Here is the link:

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