Journal of Molecular Medicine

, Volume 82, Issue 8, pp 510-529

First online:

Neurodegenerative disorders associated with diabetes mellitus

  • Michael RistowAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Nutrition, German Institute for Human Nutrition, Potsdam-RehbrückeDepartment of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Charité University Medicine Email author 

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More than 20 syndromes among the significant and increasing number of degenerative diseases of neuronal tissues are known to be associated with diabetes mellitus, increased insulin resistance and obesity, disturbed insulin sensitivity, and excessive or impaired insulin secretion. This review briefly presents such syndromes, including Alzheimer disease, ataxia-telangiectasia, Down syndrome/trisomy 21, Friedreich ataxia, Huntington disease, several disorders of mitochondria, myotonic dystrophy, Parkinson disease, Prader-Willi syndrome, Werner syndrome, Wolfram syndrome, mitochondrial disorders affecting oxidative phosphorylation, and vitamin B1 deficiency/inherited thiamine-responsive megaloblastic anemia syndrome as well as their respective relationship to malignancies, cancer, and aging and the nature of their inheritance (including triplet repeat expansions), genetic loci, and corresponding functional biochemistry. Discussed in further detail are disturbances of glucose metabolism including impaired glucose tolerance and both insulin-dependent and non-insulin-dependent diabetes caused by neurodegeneration in humans and mice, sometimes accompanied by degeneration of pancreatic beta-cells. Concordant mouse models obtained by targeted disruption (knock-out), knock-in, or transgenic overexpression of the respective transgene are also described. Preliminary conclusions suggest that many of the diabetogenic neurodegenerative disorders are related to alterations in oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and mitochondrial nutrient metabolism, which coincide with aberrant protein precipitation in the majority of affected individuals.


Diabetes Neurodegeneration Insulin Genetics Mitochondria