New York: The blood sugar-lowering drug metformin can prevent pneumonia or pneumonia, which is an important factor in the severity and mortality of Covid-19, researchers have found in studies on mice infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
Metformin is often used as early therapy for type 2 diabetes. It works by lowering glucose production in the liver and lowering blood sugar levels, which in turn improves the body’s response to insulin. However, scientists have also found that metformin has anti-inflammatory properties, although the basis for this activity was not known.
Metformin is often used as early therapy for type 2 diabetes. It works by lowering glucose production in the liver and lowering blood sugar levels, which in turn improves the body’s response to insulin.
A cross-institute team led by researchers from the University of California San Diego identified the molecular mechanism for metformin’s anti-inflammatory effects.
Researchers focused on a mouse model of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a life-threatening condition in which fluids leak into the lungs, making breathing difficult and reducing the supply of oxygen to important organs.
ARDS is triggered by trauma and by bacterial or viral infections. It is a common cause of death in patients hospitalized with Covid-19.
The results, published online in the journal Immunity, showed that metformin, given to mice before or after exposure to bacterial endotoxin, a surrogate for bacterial pneumonia, inhibited the onset of ARDS and relieved its symptoms. Metformin also significantly reduced mortality in endotoxin-exposed mice and inhibited IL-1beta production and the assembly of inflammasomes in alveolar macrophages – immune cells found in the lungs.
Together with IL-6, IL-1beta are small proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation as an early immune response. Their levels are often greatly increased in people infected with SARS-CoV-2, which causes “cytokine storms” in which the body begins to attack its own cells and tissues. They are signs of a failed acute immune response.
The production of IL-1beta depends on a large protein complex called the inflammasome, the presence of which is greatly increased in lung tissue in deceased Covid-19 patients, researchers said.
The authors said the results suggest that metformin may have therapeutic potential for treating a variety of neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases in which inflammasome activation is a factor.