A growing body of clinical and epidemiological research suggests that two of the most common diseases of aging, type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and Alzheimer disease (AD), are linked. The nature of the association is not known, but this observation has led to the notion that drugs developed for the treatment of T2DM may be beneficial in modifying the pathophysiology of AD and maintaining cognitive function. Recent advances in the understanding of the biology of T2DM have resulted in a growing number of therapies that are approved or in clinical development for this disease. This review summarizes the evidence that T2DM and AD are linked, with a focus on the cellular and molecular mechanisms in common, and then assesses the various clinical-stage diabetes drugs for their potential activity in AD. At a time when existing therapies for AD offer only limited symptomatic benefit for some patients, additional clinical trials of diabetes drugs are needed to at least advance the care of T2DM patients at risk for or with comorbid AD and also to determine their value for AD in general.
- Received February 19, 2014.
- Accepted March 16, 2014.
- © 2014 by the American Diabetes Association.
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