Diabetes drug knocks down inflammation

U. BUFFALO (US) — A drug commonly prescribed to help patients with type 2 diabetes also has a powerful—and rapid—anti-inflammatory effect, a new study shows.

“Our most important finding was this rapid, anti-inflammatory effect, which may lead to the inhibition of atherosclerosis, the major cause of heart attacks, strokes and gangrene in diabetics,” says Paresh Dandona, professor of medicine at the University at Buffalo.

It was especially noteworthy that the anti-inflammatory effect occurred independently of weight loss over the 12-week study period, he says.

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“The fact that the drug caused this dramatic and comprehensive anti-inflammatory effect independent of weight loss shows that it is a primary action of the drug and is not dependent upon weight loss,” says Ajay Chaudhuri, associate professor of medicine and lead author of the study that is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Since obesity is an inflammatory state and adipose tissue contributes to inflammation, weight loss on its own can lead to an anti-inflammatory effect.

“Even more importantly, a short-lived anti-inflammatory effect was observed within two hours following a single injection of 5 micrograms of the drug,” Chaudhuri continues. “This coincides with the peak concentration of the drug after the injection. Such a rapid and dramatic effect is rare.”

“Apart from corticosteroids, which are known anti-inflammatory drugs, and insulin, no other drug demonstrates such a powerful and rapid anti-inflammatory effect,” says Dandona.

As a result, Dandona next plans to study how the drug, exenatide and marketed under the name Byetta, might be used in acute inflammatory settings in the intensive care unit or following heart attacks and strokes, where a rapid anti-inflammatory effect is required and such drugs may be of potential use.

The study involved 24 obese type 2 diabetics who were already on insulin to control their glucose levels. Participants also exhibited a drop in the measurement of average blood sugar levels over three months, called hemoglobin A1C, from 8.6 percent to 7.4 percent.

The study was undertaken based on previous observations published in 2007 that showed that exenatide indicated an anti-inflammatory effect, reducing plasma C-reactive protein levels, triglycerides and systolic blood pressure.

The study was supported by a grant from the Amylin Corporation and Eli-Lilly.

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