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Metformin Monotherapy Alters the Human Plasma Lipidome Independent of Clinical Markers of Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in a Type 2 Diabetes Clinical Cohort

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2023 Mar 14:JPET-AR-2022-001493. doi: 10.1124/jpet.122.001493. Online ahead of print.


Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a rising pandemic worldwide. Diet and lifestyle changes are typically the first intervention for T2D. When this intervention fails, the biguanide, metformin, is the most common pharmaceutical therapy. Yet, it’s full mechanisms of action remain unknown. In this work, we applied an ultrahigh resolution, mass spectrometry-based platform for untargeted plasma metabolomics to human plasma samples from a case-control observational study of non-diabetic and well-controlled T2D subjects, the latter treated conservatively with metformin or diet and lifestyle changes only. No statistically significant differences existed in baseline demographic parameters, glucose control, or clinical markers of cardiovascular disease risk between the two T2D groups, which we hypothesized would allow the identification of circulating metabolites independently associated with treatment modality. Over 3000 blank-reduced metabolic features were detected, with the majority of annotated features being lipids or lipid-like molecules. Altered abundance of multiple fatty acids and phospholipids were found in T2D subjects treated with diet and lifestyle changes as compared to non-diabetic subjects: changes that were often reversed by metformin. Our findings provide direct evidence that metformin monotherapy alters the human plasma lipidome independent of T2D disease control and support a potential cardioprotective effect of metformin worthy of future study. Significance Statement This work provides important new information on the systemic effects of metformin in type 2 diabetic subjects. We observed significant changes in the plasma lipidome with metformin therapy, with metabolite classes previously associated with cardiovascular disease risk significantly reduced as compared to diet and lifestyle changes. While cardiovascular disease risk was not a primary outcome of our study, our results provide a jumping-off point for future work into the cardioprotective effects of metformin, even in well-controlled type 2 diabetes.

PMID:36918276 | DOI:10.1124/jpet.122.001493

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