Diabetes drug metformin can boost muscle health in older people

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Metformin, a medication commonly used to control blood sugar in diabetics, may have a new and exciting role.

Researchers from the University of Utah Health discovered that Metformin also helps keep muscles strong, particularly in older adults. This could be good news for speeding up recovery from injuries and illnesses.

How Does a Diabetes Drug Help Muscles?

You might be wondering how a medication designed for diabetes can benefit muscle health. The answer lies at the cellular level.

According to the research team led by Dr. Micah Drummond, Metformin targets a specific type of cell known as “senescent cells,” or as the scientists dubbed them, “zombie-like cells.”

These cells cause inflammation, which can lead to tissue hardening or scarring, weakening the muscles over time. Metformin helps by controlling these problem-causing cells, reducing the weakening of muscles.

The researchers are particularly excited to see if Metformin can help older adults recover more quickly from things like knee surgeries, which often have lengthy recovery periods.

What Makes Muscles Weaker as We Age?

As we age, weaker muscles can become a significant health issue, increasing the risk of falls, illness, and long-term health problems.

Senescent cells play a dual role: they’re essential for younger individuals in the healing process post-injury, but as we age, these cells can start causing problems.

Older bodies struggle to manage these cells, leading to slower recovery from injuries and other muscle-related issues. Metformin’s ability to control these cells could be crucial for quicker and more effective recovery in older adults.

Real-World Testing and Results

To find out how Metformin would perform on real people, 20 healthy older adults participated in a study that spanned several weeks.

Before starting, each participant underwent a muscle biopsy and MRI scan. They were then divided into two groups: one took Metformin, and the other took a placebo, a pill without any medication.

Both groups spent five days on bed rest, a situation that typically weakens muscles. Afterward, they went through another round of muscle biopsies and MRI scans.

After seven days of normal activity, the participants had a final muscle biopsy.

The results were promising. The participants who took Metformin showed less muscle weakening during bed rest and less muscle hardening during the recovery period.

Moreover, their muscle tissues showed fewer signs of troublesome senescent cells.

What Comes Next?

Jonathan Petrocelli, the lead author, noted that this is the first study to directly link Metformin to improved muscle recovery in older adults.

The team aims to help people maintain muscle strength as they get older, which is vital for overall health.

They are now exploring whether combining Metformin with an amino acid called leucine can further speed up recovery. Early results from animal studies look promising.

“Metformin is cheap, effective, and quite safe,” Drummond said, highlighting the potential benefits of using this medication for muscle recovery in older individuals.

If you’re interested in diabetes and overall health, consider reading studies on how olive oil could lower blood cholesterol and how honey may help control blood sugar levels.

Other interesting research points to the benefits of blueberries for those with metabolic syndrome and shows that Metformin may also reduce cognitive decline.

The study’s findings have been published in the journal Aging Cell and open up new avenues for improving health and recovery in older adults.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about This drug combo can treat type 2 diabetes in the long run effectively and findings of Best and worst fruits for type 2 diabetes: a comprehensive guide.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about unhealthy plant-based diets linked to metabolic syndrome, and results showing ultrasound may help reverse type 2 diabetes.

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