Study to Focus on Link Between Blood Sugar, Alzheimer’s Disease

The Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has been awarded a five-year, $1.9 million grant from the National Institute on Aging, a division of the National Institutes of Health.

The project, led by Steven Barger, PhD, will focus on glucose transporter cells and their inability to deliver glucose to the brain in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Glucose is most commonly referred to as blood sugar.

“We were interested in determining what kind of mechanistic events might explain the lack of glucose uptake in the brain,” said Barger, a professor and holder of the Louise G. Hearn Chair in Dementia and Long-Term Care in the College of Medicine’s Department of Geriatrics. “We started looking at the amount of glucose transporters in the surface of these brain cells, and there seems to be a problem with the delivery of the Glut1 transporter into the cell surface.”

To get to the brain, glucose must travel through specific gateways located in the surface of the cells for the brain to function properly. Barger said data they’ve collected has indicated only one transporter cell in particular, Glut1, was altered in certain tissues of the brain.

In addition to Barger, College of Pharmacy associate professor Antiño Allen, PhD, will serve as co-investigator; others working on the project include Yang Ou, PhD; Jin Hee Sung, PhD; Keri Crowder; and Larissa Porter, all from the Department of Geriatrics.