Diabetes as a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease in the Middle East and its shared pathological mediators

Richard L. Jayaraj, Sheikh Azimullah, Rami Beiram

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


The incidence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) has risen exponentially worldwide over the past decade. A growing body of research indicates that AD is linked to diabetes mellitus (DM) and suggests that impaired insulin signaling acts as a crucial risk factor in determining the progression of this devastating disease. Many studies suggest people with diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, are at higher risk of eventually developing Alzheimer's dementia or other dementias. Despite nationwide efforts to increase awareness, the prevalence of Diabetes Mellitus (DM) has risen significantly in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region which might be due to rapid urbanization, lifestyle changes, lack of physical activity and rise in obesity. Growing body of evidence indicates that DM and AD are linked because both conditions involve impaired glucose homeostasis and altered brain function. Current theories and hypothesis clearly implicate that defective insulin signaling in the brain contributes to synaptic dysfunction and cognitive deficits in AD. In the periphery, low-grade chronic inflammation leads to insulin resistance followed by tissue deterioration. Thus insulin resistance acts as a bridge between DM and AD. There is pressing need to understand on how DM increases the risk of AD as well as the underlying mechanisms, due to the projected increase in age related disorders. Here we aim to review the incidence of AD and DM in the Middle East and the possible link between insulin signaling and ApoE carrier status on Aβ aggregation, tau hyperphosphorylation, inflammation, oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in AD. We also critically reviewed mutation studies in Arab population which might influence DM induced AD. In addition, recent clinical trials and animal studies conducted to evaluate the efficiency of anti-diabetic drugs have been reviewed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)736-750
Number of pages15
JournalSaudi Journal of Biological Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Anti-diabetic drugs
  • Arab population
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Insulin signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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