Recent studies established a strong connection between blood sugar and brain health. Alzheimer’s disease, for example, is usually nicknamed as “type 3 diabetes.” In reality, it is a well-known fact that high blood sugar levels boost the risks of cognitive impairments. New research, however, concluded that estrogen might restore cognitive function.
The new study, issued in Science Advances, focused on the diabetes drug called metformin. As the researchers revealed, the medicine boosted brain repair in mice. Metformin does that by activating stem cells in the brain, a process that stimulates the production of new brain cells.
However, when looking again at the data, they found out that metformin acts differently in females than in males. “When we first looked at the data, we did not see the benefit of the metformin treatment. Then we noticed that adult females tended to do better than the males,” said Cindi Morshead, the study’s leading author.
Estrogen and metformin could restore cognitive function
The scientists looked deeper into the results of their research. They found out that estrogen, the specific sex hormone in women, promotes the response of brain stem cells to the metformin diabetes drug. On the other hand, the male sex hormone, testosterone, inhibits the process of brain repair.
Until recently, the clinical studies were only conducted on men, the researchers believing that estrogen could bias the results. “The thinking was that we’re going to study males because everything you need to know is found in the male brain, and then the female brain just complicates things with hormones,” said Dr. Morshead.
The new study’s results were beneficial in lab mice. Now, the researchers are working on their first research to establish if estrogen and metformin might also restore cognitive function and boost brain repair in human subjects.