Possible link between Alzheimer’s protein and type 2 diabetes related cardiomyopathy

A new study is underway to explore a link between cardiomyopathy and Alzheimer’s disease.

Cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart is not able to pump enough blood around the body, which can cause symptoms such as breathlessness, tiredness and swelling in the legs and abdomen.

People with type 2 diabetes are predisposed to developing cardiomyopathy, known as diabetic cardiomyopathy, which means the heart’s ability to relax and refill with blood becomes impaired.

At the moment there are no treatment options available for diabetic cardiomyopathy. However, working to change this is Sean McGee, Associate Professor of Medical Biology at Deakin University.

McGee is hoping that with further research into therapies used to reduce the Aß42 protein, researchers might be able to re-purpose these therapies to treat cardiomyopathy in people with type 2 diabetes.

The Aß42 protein is a plaque that forms on the brain, which is associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease—it is also responsible for impairing glucose metabolism in the brain, which may impact on other parts of a person’s health.

“Cardiomyopathy that progresses to heart failure is a leading cause of death in people with type 2 diabetes,” says McGee. “Despite this, we have no effective approaches to prevent the development of cardiomyopathy in type 2 diabetes, or its progression to heart failure.

“Unfortunately we don’t have a good understanding of the factors contributing to the development of cardiomyopathy in people with type 2 diabetes and that is limiting our progress.”

The Deakin University run study will test drugs designed to reduce the spread of the plaques that contribute to Alzheimer’s (specifically the Aß42 protein) to see if they can help prevent and restore cardiac function in obesity and type 2 diabetes.

“At this stage we believe that these plaques are linked to obesity and impair heart function in people with diabetes,” says McGee, who is optimistic that new drugs and treatments for people with cardiomyopathy related to their type 2 diabetes will become available thanks to their findings.

As the safety of these therapies is already established, this study will focus on determining whether or not they are effective for this specific use, which could see them used to treat obesity and type 2 diabetes related cardiomyopathy in the future.