Metformin is one of the strongest longevity drug candidates to date and is commonly used for diabetes, but it turns out it also exhibits anti-inflammatory activity that could treat many non-diabetic diseases - including CVD
Metformin has demonstrated life extending effects in animal studies and is set to become the first drug in history to be tested in a trial specifically focused on aging. The drug has a range of protective health effects, and we already know metformin affects both blood sugar and a key enzyme called 5' AMP-activated protein kinase or AMPK, which is a cellular energy sensor. Metformin tricks AMPK into starvation mode; mimicking the beneficial effects of calorie restriction. While these two features have beneficial effects in themselves, new research is confirming metformin also has potent anti-inflammatory activity, and could be repurposed for an assortment of other conditions like cardiovascular disease.
Metformin inhibits NF-kB
NF-kB activation causes inflammation, which isn't always bad, but as we age NF-kB is more widely activated - driving chronic, systemic inflammation. This type of inflammation is associated with a huge range of diseases from Alzheimer's to cancer. It's also linked to cardiovascular disease, but treatment with NSAID drugs (such as ibuprofen or aspirin) has proved ineffective so far. Research at the University of Dundee has now revealed however that metformin exerts a unique anti-inflammatory effect in heart failure patients; one that acts on NF-kB.
"We found that this drug acts differently to NSAIDs, by inhibiting a different target, known as NF-kB. The next steps will be to establish exactly how metformin inhibits NF-kB and to identify specific nondiabetic patient groups that benefit from this anti-inflammatory action. These results suggest that metformin suppresses chronic inflammation by a different mechanism to NSAIDs and provide a non-empirical rationale for further testing of the drug in non-diabetic CVD"
A wider potential
The finding is added support for metformin, which has been progressively connected with lower risk of many disease, and better survival too. While it certainly won't make anyone immortal, we can eagerly await the results from its FDA trial and hope it can be fast-tracked as a 'healthspan' drug.
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