In addition to stabilizing blood glucose, insulin may also have the ability to suppress the buildup of beta amyloid plaque, a known precursor to Alzheimer's disease, according to researchers at the University of Buffalo.
Additionally, the hormone appeared to prevent neurofibrillary tangles associated with the neurological disorder.
"If this effect of insulin proves in larger studies to be systemic, then insulin may well be a potential therapeutic agent in treating Alzheimer's disease," said lead author Paresh Dandona, M.D., Ph.D.
In addition to promoting healthy cellular activity, insulin also has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation has been shown to be a predictor of various illnesses, like cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Authors of the study noted that they will need to overcome the challenge of how to deliver the hormone directly into the brain in order to avoid any hypoglycemic effects of excessive insulin in the body.
The National Institutes of Health reports that there is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease, and treatments to slow its progression have minimal effect.