Background: We analyzed specific effects of an add-on therapy with pioglitazone compared to metformin and their combination in patients with basal insulin treatment on biomarkers of CV risk.
Methods: In this double-blind, randomized, multicentre, active comparator controlled trial, 121 patients with type 2 diabetes were enrolled. Inclusions: treatment with basal insulin, HbA(1C) 6.5%-8.5%, age 30-75 years. After glargine therapy over 2 weeks for titration towards FBG ≤ 7.8 mmol/L, patients received either (A) bid 850 mg metformin (n = 42), (B) bid 15 mg pioglitazone (n = 40), or (C) 30 mg pioglitazone plus 1.7 g metformin (n = 39) over 6 months. Matrix Metal Proteinase 9 (MMP-9) was primary objective, together with biomarkers of CV risk.
Results: Pioglitazone (B) reduced MMP-9 versus baseline by 54.1 ± 187.1 ng/mL, with metformin (A) it was increased by 49.6 ± 336.2 ng/mL (p = 0.0345; B vs. A), and with the combination of both (C) it was decreased by 67.8 ± 231.4 ng/mL (A vs. C: p = 0.0416; B vs. C: p = 0.8695). After logarithmic transformation due to high variances the exploratory results showed significance for A vs. B (p = 0.0043) and for A vs. C (p = 0.0289).Insulin dosage was reduced by 7.3 units in group B (p < 0.0001), by 6.0 units in C (p = 0.0004), but was increased by 2.5 units (p = 0.1539) in A at follow up. Reduction in hs-CRP was significant within treatment groups for B (p = 0.0098) and C (p < 0.0001), and between the groups for A vs. C (p = 0.0124). All three single regimens reduced PAI-1. Adiponectin was significantly elevated in B and C (p < 0.0001) and between-groups. HbA(1C) was only significantly decreased in the combination group. No significant effects were observed for NFkB and PGFα. peripheral edema were seen in 11.9% vs. 40.0% vs. 20.5%, and weight change was -0.7 kg vs. +4.3 kg vs. +2.7 kg (A vs. B vs. C).
Conclusions: Addition of pioglitazone but not of metformin reduces MMP-9, hs-CRP and increased insulin sensitivity and adiponectin in this study. The combination of both had no additional effect on inflammation. Pioglitazone is suggested to be a rational add-on therapy to basal insulin in patients with high CV risk.