This common diabetes drug could help reverse liver inflammation

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In a recent study published in Genes & Development, researchers found common diabetes drug metformin could help reverse liver inflammation.

They showed that metformin can regulate proteins that control aspects of inflammation in the liver.

The study is from the Salk Institute. One author is Reuben Shaw.

The diabetes drug metformin — derived from a lilac plant that’s been used medicinally for more than a thousand years — has been prescribed to hundreds of millions of people worldwide as the frontline treatment for type 2 diabetes.

Yet scientists don’t fully understand how the drug is so effective at controlling blood glucose.

Previous studies have found that metformin activates a metabolic master switch, a protein called AMPK, which conserves a cell’s energy under low nutrient conditions, and which is activated naturally in the body following exercise.

In the study, the team showed that in the liver, when AMPK couldn’t communicate with Raptor or TSC2, metformin’s effect on hundreds of genes was blocked.

Some of these genes were related to lipid (fat) metabolism, helping explain some of metformin’s beneficial effects. But surprisingly, many others were linked to inflammation.

Metformin, the genetic data showed, normally turned on anti-inflammatory pathways and these effects required AMPK, TSC2 and Raptor.

People suffering from obesity and diabetes often exhibit chronic inflammation, which further leads to additional weight gain and other maladies including heart disease and stroke.

Therefore, identifying an important role for metformin in the control of both blood glucose and inflammation reveals how metformin can treat metabolic diseases by multiple means.

Metformin and exercise elicit similar beneficial outcomes, and research has previously shown that AMPK helps mediate some of the positive effects of exercise on the body.

The team says if turning on AMPK is responsible for some of the systemic benefits of exercise, that means scientists might be able to better mimic this with new therapeutics designed to mimic some of those effects.

In the meantime, the findings suggest that researchers should study the potential use of metformin in inflammatory diseases, particularly those involving liver inflammation.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about older men with this health condition are more likely to develop diabetes and findings of a better way to control blood sugar in diabetes.

For more information about diabetes and your health, please see recent studies about common diabetes drug helps reverse diabetic patients’ heart disease risk and results showing how to lower side effects of once-popular diabetes drug.

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