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

December 6, 2011

(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

Scientists develop infection model for tickborne flaviviruses

August 22, 2017
National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists have filled a research gap by developing a laboratory model to study ticks that transmit flaviviruses, such as Powassan virus. Powassan virus was implicated in the death of a ...

Zika virus stifles pregnant women's weakened immune system to harm baby, study finds

August 21, 2017
The Zika virus, linked to congenital birth defects and miscarriages, suppresses a pregnant woman's immune system, enabling the virus to spread and increasing the chances an unborn baby will be harmed, a Keck School of Medicine ...

Novel approach to track HIV infection

August 18, 2017
Northwestern Medicine scientists have developed a novel method of tracking HIV infection, allowing the behavior of individual virions—infectious particles—to be connected to infectivity.

Faulty gene linked to obesity in adults

August 18, 2017
Groundbreaking new research linking obesity and metabolic dysfunction to a problem in the energy generators in cells has been published by researchers from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University ...

Two lung diseases killed 3.6 million in 2015: study

August 17, 2017
The two most common chronic lung diseases claimed 3.6 million lives worldwide in 2015, according to a tally published Thursday in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

New test differentiates between Lyme disease, similar illness

August 16, 2017
Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States. But it can be confused with similar conditions, including Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness. A team of researchers led by Colorado ...

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.