Metformin’s weight loss benefits have now been linked with a specific protein, researchers have said.
The drug, which is one of the world’s most commonly prescribed treatments for type 2 diabetes, has shown significant weight loss results for a lot of people, but up until now, it was not entirely clear what the mechanism behind the weight loss was.
A Cambridge-based research team wanted to further explore why metformin worked so well in shifting the pounds and said the benefits are associated with a protein called GDF15.
Previously, this protein has been thought to help regulate food consumption, body weight, and energy expenditure in response to certain metabolic stresses, hence it impacts weight loss. The latest findings indicate that when metformin is used as treatment on mice, there is an increase in the level of GDF15, providing an insight as to why metformin could be effective for weight loss.
However, mice that had lower levels of GDF15, or GFRAL the protein’s receptor, did not lose weight.
Furthermore, it has been found that blocking the receptor reversed metformin’s weight loss benefits in the obese mice, further lending evidence that metformin and GDF15 are linked.
The study concludes that metformin’s effect on GDF15 is “necessary for its beneficial effects on energy balance and body weight”, among other things.
Weight loss is one of the major ways that a person can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and reducing abdominal fat can help to manage the condition in those who have developed it. In addition to medication such as metformin, dietary and lifestyle changes are another way proven to effectively help people lose weight, manage their blood glucose levels, reduce their dependence on medication, and even achieve remission from type 2 diabetes. Members with type 2 diabetes on of the award-winning Low Carb Program have demonstrated an average of 7.4kg weight loss after 1-year, with 40% of members on medication, reducing at least one of those medications.
The findings have been published in the Nature journal.