Could the study of Alzheimer’s disease lead to treatments for GLUT1 deficiency syndrome?
It’s been known for a while that there’s a link between Alzheimer’s and how the brain metabolizes glucose. New research published in Nature Neuroscience however, reveals that GLUT1 in particular may be to blame.
The human brain is dependent on 1/4 pound of glucose each day as its main energy source. GLUT1 plays an important part in glucose reaching the brain. Cells lining the blood vessels in the head use this transporter protein to help the glucose cross the blood-brain barrier.
Now, studies have revealed that when GLUT1 is insufficient, cognitive dysfunction is the result.
The metabolism of glucose in the brain is essential to the regulation of amyloid-β, which is the main ingredient in the plaque that builds up as part of Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, one can say GLUT1 is essential to the regulation of amyloid-β.
Based on these findings, GLUT1 may now have a role to play in the treatment of Alzheimer’s. If doctors can restore this function, then:
- glucose can cross the blood-brain barrier,
- glucose metabolism in the brain will go up,
- and – hopefully – amyloid-β and the plaques associated with it will go down.
The question is: If GLUT1 is being explored as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, will that have a corresponding effect on the treatment of GLUT1 deficiency syndrome?
Presumably, if scientists are able to figure out how to correct the deficiency in one population, that would carry over to the other.
Currently, there are no FDA-approved treatments for GLUT1 deficiency syndrome. Those living with the condition rely on a ketogenic diet to provide alternate energy sources for the brain.