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Metformin Cuts Insulin Resistance and Chances of Kidney Disease in Young, Obese Rats

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Rockville, Md. (October 12, 2023)—Improving insulin resistance with metformin, a medication used to treat Type 2 diabetes, reduced the chances of developing kidney disease in a prepubescent obese rat model, according to a new study from the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Treatment with metformin also reduced early signs of inflammation and dyslipidemia (imbalance of fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides). Obesity and insulin resistance are risk factors for developing metabolic disease such as Type 2 diabetes and play a major role in the early stages of kidney disease, including protein in the urine (proteinuria). The study is published in the American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiologyand has beenchosen as an APSselectarticle for October.

“The major goal of this research was to determine if insulin resistance plays a role in the early progression of renal disease associated with prepubertal obesity.”—Jan Michael Williams, PhD

Studies investigating the role of childhood insulin resistance and obesity-related kidney injury are limited. This research provides evidence of an early relationship between the two conditions. Researchers gave 60 young male and female rats a constant supply of food and water during the study. A second group of obese, salt-sensitive rats ate either normal food or food containing metformin.

At the end of the study, there was a significant decrease in body weight and plasma insulin levels in metformin-treated rats compared to control rats that did not receive the medication. In addition, the metformin-treated animals had lower levels of proteinuria.

“Prepubertal obesity is currently an epidemic and is considered a major risk factor for renal injury,” said Jan Michael Williams, PhD, lead author of the study. “The results from our study suggest treatments that reduce insulin resistance may slow the early progression of renal disease in obese children, which may ultimately prevent the development of chronic kidney disease in adulthood.”


Read the full article, “Metformin reduces insulin resistance and attenuates progressive renal injury in prepubertal obese Dahl salt-sensitive rats.” It is highlighted as one of this month’s “best of the best” as part of the American Physiological Society’s APSselect program. Read all of this month’s selected research articles.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact APS Media Relations or call 301.634.7314. Find more research highlights in our Newsroom.

Physiology is a broad area of scientific inquiry that focuses on how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. The American Physiological Society connects a global, multidisciplinary community of more than 10,000 biomedical scientists and educators as part of its mission to advance scientific discovery, understand life and improve health. The Society drives collaboration and spotlights scientific discoveries through its 16 scholarly journals and programming that support researchers and educators in their work.

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Schedule30 May 2024