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Alzheimer’s disease (AD), is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States (US), with no cure to date. It is caused by abnormal cleavage of amyloid precursor proteins (APP), generating amyloid-beta-42 (Aβ42) plaques that trigger neuronal cell death by unknown mechanism(s). Neuroinflammation (body’s response to repair, damage and defend against foreign agents) is another characteristic feature of this disease. According to US Department of Agriculture (2017), an average American consumes 94 g of sugar per day which is equivalent to amount of sugar in 2.4 cans of coke. The impact of this high amount of blood sugar can be very significant as breakdown of glucose in high-sugar diet damages the enzymes that regulate inflammation (in immune responses), resulting in mis-regulated neuroinflammation, strokes, and chemical imbalances, and thus may contribute towards AD. In our study, we want to elucidate the effect of both high and low sugar diet on Alzheimer’s. To test our hypothesis, we have used Drosophila melanogaster (a.k.a. fruit fly), (as genetic machinery is conserved from flies to humans) and developed a fly model of AD, where human Aβ42 peptides can be misexpressed in Drosophila eye using GAL4/UAS system. We placed flies expressing human Aβ42 in eyes (along with the controls) on regular, low, and high sugar diet and checked the phenotypes in eye imaginal discs, adult flies and collected final death count. Wingless and a soy protein, Lunasin (anti-inflammatory in nature) were also studied to understand their role in progression of AD. Our study shows, that a high-sugar diet displays a more aggressive progression of AD as compared to a normal diet or a low-sugar diet. This research has significant bearings in understanding the potential link between AD and diabetes, as both are very prominent diseases in today’s world.

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Honors Thesis

Primary Advisor

Amit Singh

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium poster


Presenters: Jordan Clay Dubbs, Neha Gogia, Ankita Sarkar, Ian Joseph Tobal

Understanding the Link between Sugar Diet and Alzheimer’s Disease using Drosophila Eye Model