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GLP-1 for Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia

Ozempic for Parkinson’s Disease

GLP-1 analogs such as Ozemipc and Victoza and the dual GLP/ GIP analog Tirzepatide (Mounjaro) are commonly prescribed by doctors for diabetes and weight loss.

These drugs have other health benefits including:

Because of their neuroprotective roles, these drugs have also been studied in individuals with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Dementia.

Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia: A Quick Overview

Before we explore the potential that GLP-1 holds, let’s grasp the concept of the disease it might target.

  • Parkinson’s disease:

This neurodegenerative disorder can affect motor functioning. Its hallmark feature is related to the loss of dopamine-producing nerve cells in the brain.

Common symptoms include:

  • Tremors (shaking)
  • Rigidity (stiffness)
  • Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)
  • Difficulty with balance and coordination

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease. Patients may become dependent on others for feeding and doing household activities including changing clothes and feeding.

The disease is treated symptomatically and there is no cure.

  • Dementia:

This is an umbrella term linked to a collection of abnormalities in a person’s cognitive abilities. Dementia commonly affects older people and those with recurrent strokes or vascular disorders.

However, it may also affect the younger population. Alzheimer’s disease is a hereditary disorder that runs in families and affects younger people.

It is one of the common causes of dementia. Common symptoms of dementia can include:

  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty thinking and reasoning
  • Changes in mood and behavior
  • Language difficulties

Note: People with Parkinson’s disease can also have dementia.

 
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GLP-1 and Neuroprotection: Exploring the Link

GLP-1, actually a gut hormone, seems to play a role in the world of neurodegenerative diseases. But precisely how could a diabetes drug potentially protect the brain?

Well, the main factors are the GLP-1 receptors. They are not only present in the gut region but also in the brain parts that control memory, movement, and reward.

By mimicking the effects of GLP-1, the GLP-1 RAs influence our brain in the following ways:

  • Reducing Neuroinflammation:

Chronic inflammation is the most prominent sign of neurodegenerative disorders. There are studies in favor of GLP-1 receptor agonists’ effect against inflammation as they contain anti-inflammatory properties.

So, in theory, it can be used in the field of both Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

  • Improving Insulin Signalling:

The role of insulin (which regulates blood sugar) in changing brain function is an interesting topic. GLP-1 RAs can improve insulin sensitivity in the damaged areas of the brain.

  • Promoting Neurotrophic Effects:

There is research that shows proof suggesting the role of GLP-1 RAs in initiating the growth of nerve cells which is an important part of neuroprotection.

This effect will then challenge the damage caused by the loss of neurons in the case of Parkinson’s and dementia.

 
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Research on GLP-1 for Parkinson’s and Dementia

We started exploring the impact of GLP-1 RAs against neurodegenerative disorder because of existing preclinical studies.

Such studies are conducted in animal models and exhibit encouraging results.

  • Reduced Neurodegeneration [ref]:

Research has shown evidence that GLP-1 receptors can protect neurons against any damage and fatalities by reducing inflammation and amyloid deposition, among other factors.

  • Improved Cognitive Function [ref]:

Other evidence shows that animal subjects treated with GLP-1 RAs exhibited improvements in memory, learning, and cognitive development.

When tested against Parkinson’s, GLP-1 intervention was linked to better motor functions and lower tremors with the reduction in dopamine loss and restoration of dopamine levels.

These findings provide us with a foundation for more investigation in human trials.

 
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What it Means: Hope for the Future?

The above statements are a ray of hope for the medical sciences. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t forget that this is still an upcoming field with more unknowns than known.

  • Clinical Trials: Paving the Way:

As mentioned before, research on GLP-1 is still underway regarding both dementia and Parkinson’s disease in human models.

The ongoing studies include delicate and careful testing with a control group to make sure that the benefits come from the drugs.

If these trials are successful, then GLP-1 RAs could be FDA-approved for use in treating neurological issues.

  • A Marathon, Not a Sprint: 

Even after we receive positive results still, the use of GLP-1 RAs (Ozempic, Rybelsus, Mounjaro, Victoza, and Trulicity) for both Parkinson’s and dementia will take some time to be widespread.

More research is required to determine the accurate dosage, long-term effects, and side effects. In short, the entire process will take many years.

Even though we have no exact cure or treatment, the continued research gives us hope for the future.

 
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Conclusion

So, we have covered the basics of GLP-1 RAs, which are more known for their effects against diabetes.

This medication has a hidden potential to cure Parkinson’s disease and dementia by lowering inflammation, improving insulin function, and enhancing nerve regeneration.

However, this drug is currently unapproved by the FDA for either of the neurological conditions.

Researchers have yet to confirm the benefits, dose, and side effects and weigh the pros and cons.

So, until we have an official confirmation from the authorities, it is better to use GLP-1 for managing serum sugar levels only.

Nevertheless, we can keep hoping for a future where we can get the full benefit of GLP-1’s neuroprotective properties.

What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

Here is a link to My Facebook Page. You can also contact me by email at contact@dibesity.com or at My Twitter Account
You can also contact me via WhatsApp 🙏

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