Researchers test a drug-exercise program designed to prevent type 2 diabetes

December 6, 2011, University of Massachusetts Amherst

(Medical Xpress) -- Kinesiology researcher Barry Braun of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and colleagues recently reported unexpected results of a study suggesting that exercise and one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for diabetes, metformin, each improves insulin resistance when used alone, but when used together, metformin blunted the full effect of a 12-week exercise program in pre-diabetic men and women.

Insulin resistance is the root problem in pre-diabetes, a condition that often leads to , the increasingly common disease in which the natural hormone, insulin, becomes less effective at lowering blood sugar, leading to a range of such as eye and . An estimated 26 million Americans have diabetes and 69 million are pre-diabetic.

In studies funded by the and the National Institutes of Health, Braun expected to show that combining drug treatment and exercise would help to regulate blood sugar better than either treatment alone. However, the surprising result was that "exercise combined with was not better than exercise alone and it might even be worse," says Braun. "We’re now trying to understand the mechanisms to explain this." Findings appear in a recent issue of Diabetes Care.

Braun, with his former doctoral student Steven Malin, and colleagues recruited 32 men and women with pre-diabetes and assigned them to one of four groups, 8 per group, and asked them to follow a 12-week course of exercise, exercise plus the drug metformin, metformin alone, or no treatment. The researchers measured insulin sensitivity at baseline and again after the 12-week treatment period in the double-blind study. Exercise training consisted of 60- to 75-minutes of aerobic exercise and resistance training three times per week.

All treatment groups had improved insulin sensitivity but only the two metformin groups lost weight after 12 weeks of exercise training, metformin alone or the two combined. But as noted, adding metformin to exercise did not enhance the effects of exercise training. Rather, adding metformin seems to have blunted the positive effect of exercise by 25 to 30 percent. This is probably enough to have clinical relevance, the researchers point out.

Braun and colleagues speculate that differences in outcome for the exercise-only and the exercise-plus-metformin group may be related to differences in how muscles, the liver and the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas adapt to exercise training when metformin is present. They are now turning their attention to investigate an exercise/medication combination that more effectively targets the liver and the pancreas in the hope of creating a more effective exercise drug to prevent the transition from pre-diabetes to Type 2 diabetes.

Explore further: Metformin and exercise combination less effective for glucose control

Related Stories

Metformin and exercise combination less effective for glucose control

August 19, 2011
University of Alberta researchers looking at the effects of metformin and exercise in Type 2 diabetes patients found that a combination of these modalities didn't lower glucose control as much as hoped. Surprisingly, study ...

Dieting beats exercise for diabetes prevention, combination is best

August 30, 2011
Lifestyle changes that include dieting to lose weight and exercise can help prevent type 2 diabetes, but researchers were uncertain which element contributes more. A new study suggests that, in postmenopausal women at least, ...

Diabetes drug may prevent or delay development of polycystic ovary syndrome

June 29, 2011
A recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) found that early, prolonged treatment with the diabetes drug metformin may prevent or delay the development ...

Recommended for you

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Flu may be spread just by breathing, new study shows; coughing and sneezing not required

January 18, 2018
It is easier to spread the influenza virus (flu) than previously thought, according to a new University of Maryland-led study released today. People commonly believe that they can catch the flu by exposure to droplets from ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.