Research reported on August 26, 2016 in Cardiovascular Diabetology suggests a use for metformin, commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, to delay the development of heart disease in type 1 diabetics.
Twenty-three type 1 diabetics with no evidence of heart disease were given metformin in addition to standard therapy for eight weeks while nine type 1 diabetics received standard insulin therapy. Twenty-three healthy nondiabetics served as a control group. Circulating endothelial progenitor cells, proangiogenic cells, endothelial cells and other factors were assessed before and after the treatment period.
"For the first time, this study has shown metformin has additional benefit beyond improving diabetes control when given to patients with relatively well controlled type 1 diabetes," reported lead researcher Jolanta Weaver. "We have established the drug increases patients own vascular stem cells, which will help delay or slowdown heart disease. Our findings also show that the cells associated with damaged blood vessels were reduced, confirming that the repair of blood vessels was taking place in our patients."
"Metformin could routinely be used by patients with Type 1 diabetes to help lower their chances of developing heart disease, by increasing a repair mechanism created by vascular stem cells released from the bone marrow," she predicted.
"As the outcomes of heart disease are worse in diabetic versus nondiabetic patients, there is a need to identify additional treatment options," Dr Weaver continued. "We have shown that all our patients in the study had their insulin doses reduced after taking metformin and have not suffered any serious adverse effect."