Linking Diabetes and Mood Disorders

In a recent press release a group from Vanderbilt University Medical Center lead by Dr. Galli Niswender has announced that they have discovered a molecular link between impaired insulin signaling in the brain and schizophrenia-like behaviors in mice. The researchers developed mice with an insulin-signaling defect only in neurons. They found that the mice have behavioral abnormalities similar to those frequently seen in patients with schizophrenia. They also showed how defects in insulin signaling disrupt neurotransmitter levels in the brain which resulted from elevated levels of the transporter protein (NET) that removes norepinephrine and dopamine from the synaptic space between neurons.

Moodiness associated with diabetes can have a significant impact on social lives and relationships. In this personal video, Bill the “Happy Diabetic” describes how his sugar levels impact on his mood and his relationship with his wife.

Dr. Niswender’s group has shown that by treating mice with NET inhibitors (drugs that block NET activity), they were able to restore normal dopamine levels and behaviors. Clinical trials are now underway which may offer a novel approach to the treatment of insulin associated mood disorders.

The findings are to be published next week in the online, open-access journal PLoS Biology.

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