A common diabetes drug Metformin can also help lower “bad” cholesterol that is known for promoting cardiovascular diseases by hardening the arteries, significant research has found. LDL cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to fatty buildups in arteries. This narrows the arteries and increases the risk for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease.
“The findings suggest that Metformin might indeed have an additional beneficial effect with regards to cardiovascular diseases among the diabetes patients”, said study first author Dr Tao Xu from Helmholtz Zentrum Minchen, the German research centre for environmental health in Neuherberg.
Lower LDL Cholesterol Naturally
Along with the team from the German Diabetes Centre (DDZ) in Dusseldorf, Dr Tu and colleagues analysed more than 1,800 blood samples of participants. Using a comprehensive approach, the scientists investigated metabolic products (metabolites) as well as the genetics of these participants.
They found that the administration of Metformin in patients suffering from Type 2 Diabetes led to a change in metabolite levels. According to the authors, this was associated with a significantly decreased level of LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
The researchers speculate that Metformin intake affects the levels of LDL cholesterol, leading to a down-regulation of specific genes.
“This is also supported by the fact that three lipid metabolites are decreased after taking the diabetes drug. Presumably, this is the mechanism of how the production of ‘LDL’ cholesterol is repressed by Metformin,” explained Dr Rui Wang-Sattler from the institute of epidemiology II of the Helmholtz Zentrum Minchen.
“Until now the exact mechanism is unclear. Thus, we want to continue our contribution to its decryption”, added co-study author Dr Stefan Brandmaier in a paper published in the journal Diabetes Care. Metformin is the oldest and most frequently used oral anti-diabetes drug.
It affects blood fat levels via the AMPK signalling pathway. The AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is an enzyme that determines the energy status of the cell. In case, the energy status is low, AMPK stops energy-consuming processes like the synthesis of cholesterol or fatty acids.