Locally produced brain insulin in memory and Alzheimer’s disease: A multi-disciplinary approach to a key question

Dr. James Johnson
University of British Columbia

One percent of Alzheimer’s disease is the early-onset type that runs in families. Extensive studies of these ultra-rare forms of Alzheimer’s disease have revealed the genes that cause them. On the other hand, the most common forms of Alzheimer’s disease are surprisingly understudied and poorly understood at the level required for therapeutic intervention. However, it is clear from population levels studies that there are important links between Alzheimer’s disease and obesity, altered fat metabolism, diabetes and insulin. Interestingly, there have been many reports over the years that the brain actually produces a small amount of insulin. Here, we will test the hypothesis that insulin produced in the brain is a critical factor for the survival and function of brain cells in the context of both a genetic change that increases Alzheimer’s risk and a diet that increases Alzheimer’s risk. Our studies are likely to impact our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease, potentially revealing a path to a cure.


James Johnson, Paul Pavlidis, Shernaz Bamji

Imagine a world without Alzheimer disease.