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Is there a link between diabetes and Parkinson’s disease?

In a recent study published in Neurology, researchers investigated whether there is a relationship between type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a medical condition characterized by a lack of or impaired activity of insulin, a hormone that is responsible for reducing sugar levels in the blood. It is well known that type 2 diabetes increases the risk of many complications, including cardiovascular disease, and kidney and nerve damage.

Researchers believe that type 2 diabetes might also increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by impaired movement. However, the relationship between diabetes and Parkinson’s disease needs a more thorough investigation.

In a recent study by De Pablo Fernandez and team published in Neurology, researchers investigated whether patients with type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease later in life. The studied included data from 2,017,115 patients with type 2 diabetes and 6,173,208 control individuals of whom did not have type 2 diabetes.

The analysis revealed that patients with type 2 diabetes had a significantly higher rate of developing Parkinson’s disease compared to those that did not have diabetes. Furthermore, the authors found the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s was greater in younger patients with type 2 diabetes and individuals with complications related to type 2 diabetes.

Although the authors demonstrated that individuals with type 2 diabetes were more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, further research is still necessary to better understand the relationship between diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. The current author speculated that both conditions may stem partly from disrupted insulin signaling. If this is true, the authors believe that improving insulin signaling, particularly in the brain, may be an effective strategy in treating patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Written by Haisam Shah, BSc

Reference: De Pablo-Fernandez, E., Goldacre, R., Pakpoor, J., Noyce, A. J., & Warner, T. T. (2018). Association between diabetes and subsequent Parkinson disease: A record-linkage cohort study. Neurology, 10-1212.

Haisam Shah BSc
Haisam Shah BSc
Haisam is a first-year Masters student in the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto. His research involves understanding the role of cardiac fibroblasts in the progressive development of cardiac fibrosis following a myocardial infarction. He graduated from McGill University with a Bachelors of Science – Honors in Pharmacology, where he had the opportunity of investigating potential combination therapies for Glioblastoma Multiforme.
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