An oral diabetes medication called sitagliptin could reverse the decline in cognitive function commonly associated with diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Ulster University researchers aimed to assess whether sitaglipti, which is used to treat type 2 diabetes, could reverse memory impairment and improve metabolic control in mice.
They fed mice a high-calorie diet and gave them either sitagliptin or saline over 21 days, with energy intake, glucose and insulin concentrations among the variables measured at regular intervals.
Improving memory function
Sitagliptin was found to improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, while decreasing dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) activity.
This inhibition of DDP-4 activity improved recognition memory of the mice without anxiety levels and hypermoteric activity being affected.
Researchers concluded that DDP-4 inhibitors may result in dual benefits by improving metabolic control as well as reducing cognitive decline.
The team at Ulster now want clinical trials to be conducted on humans to assess whether sitagliptin offers a viable treatment for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
Professor Victor Gault said: “Our studies now show that when these mice are treated orally with Sitagliptin that this drug reverses their cognitive decline as well as their diabetes.
“Ulster University believes these new findings offer enormous potential for drug repurposing and that an already licensed drug could be tested safely in humans to ascertain if the drug also offers beneficial neuroprotective effects in Diabetes and Alzheimers disease.”

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