Effect of metformin monotherapy on serum lipid profile in statin-naïve individuals with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus: a cohort study

PeerJ. 2018 Apr 12:6:e4578. doi: 10.7717/peerj.4578. eCollection 2018.


Background: Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of mortality and morbidity in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Studies have consistently identified dyslipidemia as an important risk factor for the development of macrovascular disease. The landmark United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study has shown that metformin therapy reduces cardiovascular events in overweight people with T2DM. This study investigates the effect of metformin monotherapy on serum lipid profile in statin-naïve individuals with newly diagnosed T2DM, and whether the effect, if any, is dosage-related.

Methods: This cohort study enrolled individuals exceeding 20 years of age, with recent onset T2DM, who received at least 12 months of metformin monotherapy and blood tests for serum lipid at 6-month intervals. Exclusion criteria involved people receiving any additional antidiabetic medication or lipid-lowering drug therapy. Lipid-modifying effect of metformin was recorded as levels of serum triglycerides (TG), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) measured at six month intervals.

Results: The study enrolled 155 participants with a mean age of 58.6 years and average glycosylated hemoglobin A1c of 8%. After initiating metformin therapy, LDL-C was significantly reduced from 111 mg/dl to 102 mg/dL at 6 months (P < 0.001), TG was reduced from 132 mg/dl to 122 mg/dL at 12 months (P = 0.046), and HDL-C increased from 45.1 mg/dL to 46.9 mg/dL at 12 months (P = 0.02). However, increasing the dosage of metformin yielded no significant effect on its lipid-lowering efficacy.

Discussion: Metformin monotherapy appreciably improves dyslipidemia in statin-naive people with T2DM. Its lipid-modifying effect may be attributable to insulin sensitization, reduction of irreversibly glycated LDL-C, and weight loss. In practice, people with dyslipidemia who are ineligible for lipid-lowering agents may benefit from metformin therapy. Moreover, previous studies report a synergistic effect between metformin and statin, which may further reduce cardiovascular events in at-risk individuals. Overall, metformin is a safe and efficacious approach to alleviate dyslipidemia in people with newly diagnosed T2DM.

Keywords: Dyslipidemia; Metformin; Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Grants and funding

The authors received no funding for this work.