Diabetes Drug Could Prevent Cardiovascular Issues

Mice treated with linagliptin gained weight, but did not experience aortic stiffness.

Researchers recently discovered that a diabetes drug can also potentially prevent arterial stiffness, which is common in patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Premenopausal patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes face the highest risk for developing arterial stiffness and cardiovascular disease.

“The widespread overconsumption of a western diet high in fats and refined sugars is a contributing factor to the epidemic of obesity and diabetes around the world,” said lead author of the study Vincent DeMarco, PhD. “Our previous studies showed that young female mice consuming a mostly western diet not only gained weight, but also exhibited arterial stiffening consistent with obese premenopausal women. Our current study sought to understand what effects, if any, the diabetes medication linagliptin had on preventing vascular stiffness.”

Linagliptin is a type 2 diabetes medication that lowers blood sugar levels by blocking the dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) enzyme. Previous studies found that DPP-4 inhibitors can protect against vascular inflammation and oxidative stress related to arterial stiffening.

In a study published by Cardiovascular Diabetology, researchers examined 34 female mice that received a normal diet or a western diet for 4 mice. Another group received a western diet that contained linagliptin.

Researchers used an ultrasound technique that was designed to evaluate stiffness of the aorta in mice.

“The mice fed a western diet without receiving linagliptin gained weight and developed aortic stiffness,” Dr DeMarco said. “However, a big surprise to us was an almost total prevention of aortic stiffening in the mice that were fed the western diet along with linagliptin, even though this group gained as much weight as the other mice.”

Researchers state that more studies are needed to determine if linagliptin can be used to prevent aortic stiffening and associated cardiovascular risks, according to the study.

“Based on the results of our study, it is tempting to speculate that linagliptin could target arterial stiffness and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,” Dr DeMarco concluded. “However, results from clinical trials already in progress will be needed to determine what, if any, future role linagliptin could play in the management of obesity-related cardiovascular disease.”