Drug that lowers blood sugar also reduces age-related blood vessel dysfunction


An FDA-approved drug for type 2 diabetes prevented vascular constriction and stiffness in aging male mice.

An FDA-approved drug taken by adults with type 2 diabetes to lower blood sugar may also reduce blood vessel dysfunction associated with aging, new research has found.

Longevity.Technology: Researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine first looked at the role that aging plays in the function and stiffness of human blood vessels, then assessed how treatment with empagliflozin (Empa), sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor improved blood vessel function and reduced arterial stiffness in aged male mice [1]. Marketed as Jardiance, Empa has already been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death and hospitalization for heart failure in adults with heart failure [2]and this new research builds on that, opening the door to further improvements in vascular health.

“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among older adults in the United States,” said Camila Manrique-Acevedo, MD, associate professor of medicine. “Weight loss, physical activity, antihypertensive treatment, and lipid-lowering drugs have shown variable effectiveness in improving blood vessel function and reducing arterial stiffness. But additional approaches are needed to improve vascular health in older adults [3].”

“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among older adults in the United States,” said Camila Manrique-Acevedo, MD, associate professor of medicine. “Weight loss, physical activity, antihypertensive treatment, and lipid-lowering drugs have shown variable effectiveness in improving blood vessel function and reducing arterial stiffness. But additional approaches are needed to improve vascular health in older adults [2].”

The study first compared the function and stiffness of blood vessels in 18 healthy human patients – with an average age of 25 – with 18 patients with an average age of 61; they found that older patients had impaired endothelial function and increased aortic stiffness compared to younger patients.

“Our findings in young and older adults support previous clinical data demonstrating the impact of aging on blood vessel function and arterial stiffness,” Manrique-Acevedo said. “Most importantly, we were able to reproduce these data in a rodent model [3].”

In order to study the effects of Empa on vascular aging, 72-week-old male mice were divided into two groups. Twenty-nine were fed an Empa-enriched diet for six weeks, while the other half received a standard diet. After analyzing both groups six weeks later, researchers found that Empa-treated mice showed improved blood vessel function, reduced arterial stiffness, and other vascular benefits. [1].

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the potential role of SGLT2 inhibition in reversing vascular aging,” Manrique-Acevedo said. “And our findings underscore the need for further clinical investigations to determine the potential role of SGLT2 inhibition as a therapeutic tool to delay or reverse vascular aging in humans.” [3].”

Their study, “SGLT2 inhibition attenuates arterial dysfunction and decreases vascular F-actin content and expression of proteins associated with oxidative stress in aged mice,” was recently published in the journal GeroScience.

Highlighting the promise of personalized healthcare and the impact of large-scale interdisciplinary collaboration, the NextGen Precision Health initiative brings together innovators from the University of Missouri and three other research universities in the UM system in the pursuit of life-changing advances in precision health. It is a collaborative effort to build on UM’s research strengths towards a better future for health and beyond.

[1] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11357-022-00563-x
[2] https://www.jardiance.com/heart-failure/
[3] https://medicine.missouri.edu/news/blood-vessel-dysfunction-caused-aging


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