Insulin Nose Spray May Slow Alzheimer's Progression

Alzheimers patients may be improved with insulin nasal spray

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A surprising therapy may help slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Using a daily insulin nasal spray may curb symptoms and even improve cognition and function for those with the neurodegenerative disease.

This may be because insulin plays a role in several functions of the body's central nervous system, but insulin levels and activity are reduced in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Increasing that level might help Alzheimer's patients maintain function.

"Ask your doctor about new Alzheimer's treatments."

Suzanne Craft of the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington School of Medicine and her team of researchers found that participants who received 20 IU of insulin nasal spray each day maintained or improved brain functioning over a 16-week period.

Investigators conducted the randomized controlled trial by dividing patients into three groups, with 36 participants receiving 20 IU of insulin nasal spray daily, while 38 took 40 IU of insulin each day, and 30 received a nasal spray placebo for four months. All of the participants had Alzheimer's disease and were noted to have mild cognitive impairment.

The participants were evaluated by their ability to recall a story, both immediately after it was told and 20 minutes later, and by Dementia Severity Rating Scale scores. As compared to the placebo group, participants who received 20 IU of insulin nasal spray each day showed improved story recall, though there was no observed improvement in participants who received the higher daily dose.

Both of the groups of participants who received insulin appeared to maintain or improve cognition, function and cerebral glucose metabolism, while those in the placebo group showed a slight decline in overall functioning.

Investigators said the results could spark future clinical trials of insulin therapy in the form of a nasal spray to study the drug's impact on Alzheimer's disease.

The pilot study was published Sept. 12 in Online First by Archives of Neurology, one of the Journal of the American Medical Association/Archives journals.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 15, 2011
Last Updated:
September 17, 2011