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January 3, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Researchers at The Ohio State University Medical Center have shown in lab tests that a new type of diabetes medication can not only lower blood sugar, it can also improve cardiovascular disease, a frequent complication for those living with type 2 diabetes.
This study was recently published by the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.
Dr. Sanjay Rajagopalan, the John W. Wolfe Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and director for vascular research at Ohio State’s Medical Center, and his team tested a new form of a gliptin, a class of drugs that inhibit the protein dipeptidyl-peptidase 4 (DPP-4), which plays a role in glucose metabolism. In the study, lab mice were fed either a normal or high fat diet. They were further divided into groups receiving treatment with a placebo or the drug alogliptin, which is not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Results from the study show, compared to animals on a normal diet or a high fat diet and placebo, those on the high fat diet and drug treatment saw significant improvements in blood glucose as well as systolic blood pressure and visceral fat inflammation. Additionally, cholesterol and triglyceride levels dropped approximately 30 percent and circulating markers for inflammation were reduced by 50 percent.
Rajagopalan says that gliptins may have additional anti-inflammatory properties, a property previously unrecognized. These effects are likely important because inflammation is a key pathological principle in diabetes and atherosclerosis, which is the process of hardening of the arteries due to a buildup of fatty plaque.
“We were pleasantly surprised by the magnitude of change in the treated verses non-treated animals. We believe this opens a new area of investigation into how inflammation and DPP-4 impact diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” says Rajagopalan. “This research could also have implications for the treatment of other inflammatory diseases.”
While this study is one of the first to show alogliptin can reduce risk factors for atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular complications, a national phase III trial is currently underway to evaluate the drug’s cardiovascular effects in patients with type 2 diabetes.
“The incidence of diabetes is growing rapidly worldwide. Right now one in ten Americans has it. Within 40 years, that number is expected to be one in three. About half of those people will die from cardiovascular complications brought on by the diabetes, so we need medications that address both diseases,” says Rajagopalan.
This research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health. Takeda Pharmaceuticals, manufacturer of alogliptin, provided an educational grant to Dr. Rajagopalan and supplied the drug for the study.