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Diabetes may be linked to changes in the brain that are also found in people who have Alzheimer's disease, a study has found.

Australian researchers looked at the relationship between type 2 diabetes, the loss of brain cells and their connections, the sticky build-up of plaques called beta amyloid and tangles of protein in spinal fluid, BBC health reported.

Evidence shows that people with type 2 diabetes have double the risk of developing dementia. This interesting development further defines how the diseases may be connected.

The study involved 816 people with an average age of about 74. Of those,397 had mild cognitive impairment, which can be a precursor to dementia, 191 had Alzheimer's disease and 228 had no memory and thinking problems. A total of 124 of the participants had diabetes.

The study found that those with diabetes had on average 16 picograms per milliliter greater levels of the tau protein in the spinal and brain fluid irrespective of whether they had dementia.

Greater levels of tau in spinal fluid may reflect a greater build-up of tangles in the brain, say the authors, and these tangles may eventually contribute to the development of dementia.

The study also found that diabetes was associated with a reduced thickness of the cortex layer of the brain with most nerve cells.

People with diabetes had cortical tissue that was an average of 0.03 milimeter less than those who did not have diabetes, whether they had no thinking and memory problems, mild cognitive impairment or dementia due to Alzheimer's disease.

The researchers suggest that the build-up of tangles may contribute to this loss of brain tissue.


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