Background: As a first-line diabetes drug that is widely prescribed around the world, metformin has been demonstrated to be effective in reducing microvascular risk, in addition to lowering glucose levels. Specifically, metformin use has been shown to be associated with improved lipid profiles, such as increased levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). However, no study has been performed to examine the differential response in HDL-C levels to metformin treatment by race/ethnicity.
Methods: Here, based on a re-analysis of the data from the Diabetes Prevention Program, which involved pre-diabetic participants receiving 850 mg of metformin twice daily, we compared the lipid profile changes following the metformin use. The participants were composed of 602 Whites, 221 African Americans (AAs) and 162 Hispanics.
Results: We found that the one-year metformin treatment resulted in a significant increase in HDL-C levels in Whites (p = 0.002) and AAs (p = 0.016), but not in Hispanics. Consistently, both Whites (p = 0.018) and AAs (p = 0.020) had more pronounced changes in HDL-C levels than Hispanics following metformin treatment.
Conclusion: This result suggests a notion that Whites and AAs are more responsive than Hispanics to one-year metformin use in HDL-C level changes, and that racial and ethnic identity is a factor to consider when interpreting the effects of metformin treatment on lipid profiles.