A common diabetes drug can also help in lowering cholesterol, says a new study.
Metformin is the oldest and most frequently used oral anti-diabetes drug. It affects blood fat levels via AMPK signalling pathway. This is responsible for maintaining the energy levels in cells. When the energy is low, it stops the synthesis of cholesterol or fatty acids as it is an energy consuming process.
"The findings suggest that Metformin might indeed have an additional beneficial effect with regards to cardiovascular diseases among the diabetes patients," said Dr.Tao Xu, study first author from Helmholtz Zentrum Minchen, the German research center for environment health in Neuherberg.
They analyzed more than 1,800 blood samples of participants for metabolic products (metabolites) as well as their genes. It showed changes in metabolite levels of diabetes patients to whom the drug was administered.
According to the authors, this was associated with a significantly decreased level of LDL or "bad" cholesterol. They also 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 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", said Dr Stefan Brandmaier, co-study author. The paper was published in the journal Diabetes Care