Metformin May Lower LDL Cholesterol

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Possible metabolic mechanism includes activation of AMPK, FADS suppression.
Possible metabolic mechanism includes activation of AMPK, FADS suppression.

(HealthDay News) -- The diabetes drug metformin changes metabolic profiles of 3 metabolites that may lower LDL cholesterol (LDL-C), according to a study published online in Diabetes Care.

Tao Xu, from Helmholtz Zentrum München in Neuherberg, Germany, and colleagues analyzed both metabolomic and genomic data from 3 independent cohorts, including 151 patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) treated with metformin (mt-T2D). Fasting serum samples were used to quantify 131 metabolites.

The researchers found significantly lower (P < 5.0E-06) concentrations of 3 metabolites (acyl-alkyl phosphatidylcholines [PCs]) when comparing mt-T2D with 4 control groups who were not using glucose-lowering oral medication. These findings persisted when controlling for conventional risk factors of T2D and were replicated in 2 independent studies. Levels of these metabolites decreased significantly in patients after they started metformin treatment during 7 years of follow-up. There was an association between the reduction of these metabolites and a lowered blood level of LDL-C. There was an association between variations of these 3 metabolites and 17 genes (including FADS1 and FADS2).

"Our results indicate that metformin intake activates AMPK and consequently suppresses FADS, which leads to reduced levels of the three acyl-alkyl PCs and LDL-C," the authors write. "Our findings suggest potential beneficial effects of metformin in the prevention of cardiovascular disease."


  1. Xu, T; Brandmaier, S; Messias, AC; et al. Diabetes Care, August 5, 2015; doi: 10.2337/dc15-0658.
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