Diabetes medications and Alzheimer’s: How Liraglutide is bringing fresh hope for preventing the condition

diabetes medications and alzheimer's

Although many people are aware of the relationship between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, few will have heard about the latest pharmaceutical developments. At present, research teams are assessing the effects of a GLP-1 analogue on preventing the degenerative condition. With new research into diabetes medications and Alzheimer’s, is the medical world about to make a promising new discovery?

What is the medication researchers are looking into?

Liraglutide is a GLP-1 analogue. Understandably, its pharmaceutical name may not mean much to most people.

In a nutshell, GLP-1 analogues encourage your body to make more of a certain type of hormone. Those hormones are called Incretins. When your body has more incretins, it achieves the following:

  • You produce an appropriate amount of insulin in response to what you eat.
  • Your liver produces less glucose.
  • The stomach digests and releases food at a lower rate.

Liraglutide comes in the form of a once-daily injection. Although it’s suitable for Type 2 Diabetes, it isn’t safe for use in Type 1 Diabetes. This is because your body needs to produce insulin for it to work without causing hypoglycemia. As Type 1 Diabetes involves the loss of insulin production, Liraglutide isn’t an appropriate medication in all patient groups.

How do diabetes medications and Alzheimer’s intersect?


The connection between diabetes medications and Alzheimer’s is a little complex. At a basic level, preventing diabetes and slowing down its progression reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This is because diabetes, when left to progress, narrows blood vessels that supply oxygen to the brain. As a result, the risk of vascular dementia rises.

More recent research looking into diabetes medications and Alzheimer’s is focusing on one drug only: Liraglutide. The study is examining its effects on those in the early phases of the disease. Patients participating will receive either a Liraglutide injection or a placebo. 

Although the research is in its earlier phases, so far the results are promising. Those who have taken Liraglutide have reported a perceived difference in their symptoms. It’s important to remember here that the trial is a blind one, which means that the participants don’t know whether they’re receiving a placebo or not.

Other assessments of the drug’s effects have found that there are fewer amyloid plaques and tau proteins present in those who use it. As two key markers of Alzheimer’s, their reduced progression could slow down memory loss.

How can you prevent Alzheimer’s disease?

Should diabetes medications and Alzheimer’s disease form a positive relationship, millions of people worldwide will benefit. Until then, it’s worth considering some of the ways you can prevent the condition:

  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Reduce your cholesterol levels
  • Exercise regularly
  • Learn new things, such as a language
  • Socialize more often
  • Reduce your risk of head trauma, especially if you’re taking a blood thinner

And, as the diabetes medications and Alzheimer’s trial continue to progress, watch this space!

About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.