Text Size: a  |   a 

Drugs Meant to Treat Diabetes Having a Positive Effect on MS Patients

March 23, 2016

Oral anti-diabetes drugs appear to help control disease activity in obese MS patients who have metabolic syndrome. A new study published in JAMA Neurology showed that patients being treated with the drugs metformin or pioglitazone had a lower amount of T2 lesions and gadolinium-enhancing lesions.

The results point to the importance of treating such comorbidities associated with MS, according to the study’s coauthor.

The analysis included 50 patients with relapsing-remitting MS with a body mass index of 30 kg or more who had developed metabolic syndrome. This syndrome, which includes symptoms such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, and insulin resistance, is a common feature of obesity. Of the total, 20 patients received metformin hydrochloride (850 - 1500 mg/day), 10 received pioglitazone hydrochloride (15 - 30 mg/day), and 20 patients who opted not to receive either of these metabolic syndrome treatments made up the control group.

Patients underwent a comprehensive neurologic examination every 3 months. The examination included a physical assessment of disease activity and measurements of Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score. Brain MRI was performed every 6 months.

After a mean follow-up of 26.7 months, patients receiving metformin or pioglitazone had a significant decrease in the number of new or enlarging T2 lesions on brain MRI compared with the control group and compared with findings on MRIs performed 2 years before.

This decrease was evident even after 6 months of treatment. The lowest mean number of new or enlarging T2 lesions occurred after 18 months of treatment (metformin, 0.5; pioglitazone, 0.6) and remained low throughout the study.

As well, patients receiving metformin or pioglitazone had a significant and similar decrease in the number of gadolinium-enhancing lesions compared with 2 years before and compared with the control group. The lowest mean number of these lesions was after 24 months of treatment (metformin, 0.1; pioglitazone, 0.3).

The study wasn’t designed to find this but, glucose levels, fasting insulin levels, insulin resistance, total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides and systolic blood pressure all declined significantly in both treatment groups after a year.