Objective: This study was undertaken to assess the effects of combined treatment with insulin and metformin in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus in whom dietary measures, weight control, and oral antihyperglycemic therapy had failed.
Background: Insulin resistance in peripheral tissues, increased hepatic gluconeogenesis, and impaired insulin secretion are the underlying factors in the development of type 2 diabetes. Metformin is a biguanide antihyperglycemic agent that increases peripheral insulin sensitivity, reduces hepatic gluconeogenesis, and decreases intestinal glucose absorption.
Methods: Thirty-one patients (24 women, 7 men; mean age, 61.8 years; mean body mass index [BMI], 28.0 kg/m2) were enrolled in this randomized, double-blind, 2-way, crossover, placebo-controlled study. Patients with type 2 diabetes who were treated previously with insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents and who had a glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) level >9% or a fasting blood glucose level >8 mmol/L were included. Patients who were being treated with oral agents were switched to insulin therapy and required to maintain stable blood glucose control for 2 months prior to randomization. Patients received insulin plus either metformin 1,700 mg/d or placebo for 5 months, followed by a 2-month washout period, and were then crossed over to the other treatment arm for 5 months of additional treatment (total treatment period: 12 months).
Results: Thirty patients completed the study; 1 patient withdrew early because of hypoglycemia. Compared with placebo, metformin produced significant reductions from overall baseline in mean daily insulin dose requirement (-8.69 units (17.2%], P < 0.001), HbA1c level (-0.74 [9.9%], P = 0.005), serum fructosamine level (-44.40 micromol/L, P = 0.026), 24-hour blood glucose profile (P = 0.008), and total cholesterol level (-0.42 mmol/L, P = 0.005). No treatment effects were observed on body weight, blood pressure, serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, or serum triglyceride levels. There was no correlation between BMI and reduction in HbA1C. No major side effects were reported.
Conclusions: Combination therapy with metformin and insulin improves glycemic control and reduces insulin requirements. with no major side effects, in patients with type 2 diabetes and may improve the risk profile in this patient population.