How metformin action could be inhibited by a molecule in gut bacteria

The study was released in Cell Metabolism.

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The effects of a drug often used by clinicians to treat blood sugar fluctuations associated with diabetes could be inhibited by action from a bacteria-derived in our intestinal system, a study at the University of Gothenburg has determined.

The treatment is known as metformin and has been widely prescribed by physicians for treating type 2 diabetes. However, in a recent study released in Cell Metabolism, the action of metformin may be inhibited by the molecule imidazole propionate produced by bacteria in the gut.

According to researchers, the change in gut microbiota pertaining to one’s diabetes condition could heighten the production of imidazole propionate, which results in an inhibitory effect.

“Our study demonstrates clearly that imidazole propionate not only inhibits the effects of insulin but may also reduce the therapeutic action of the metformin,” a co-author of the study stated in a press release.

“Since imidazole propionate has also been linked to inflammation in the gut, and metformin has several side effects in the form of intestinal problems, it’s conceivable that imidazole propionate both blocks the treatment effect and contributes to side effects of metformin. But new studies are needed to verify this hypothesis,” the author concluded.

The study was authored by Ara Koh, Louise Manneras-Holm, Rosie Perkins, Fredrik Bäckhed, among other researchers.