Metformin may work by changing gut bacteria makeup

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Nelson Vergel

During the study period, the collection of gut bacteria changed much more dramatically in those taking metformin. In particular, the drug seemed to encourage the growth of strains of bacteria called Akkermansia and Bifidobacterium. Lab experiments revealed that both types also grew faster in the presence of metformin.

The researchers then took stool samples from three people before and after a course of metformin and fed them to mice that were on a high-fat diet, to mimic human type 2 diabetes. The technique, known as a faecal transplant, is thought to pass beneficial bacteria from the gut of a healthy individual to a sickly one.

Faeces taken from metformin-treated individuals seemed to improve glucose tolerance – a measure of how well animals can control blood sugar levels – in mice that received samples from two of the three donors. But faeces taken from people before their treatment had no effect on any of the mice.

Together, the results suggest that metformin at least partly works by encouraging the growth of gut bacteria such as Akkermansia, which can influence blood sugar levels. However, the researchers still don’t know how the bacteria might be doing this.

Bäckhed hopes that some people with diabetes might get similar benefits by modifying their diets to change the makeup of their gut bacteria – for example by encouraging the growth of Akkermansia and Bifidobacterium.

Journal reference: Nature Medicine, DOI: 10.1038/nm.4345

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Very interesting that you saw an improvement, the typical patient sees new onset GI symptoms such as flatulence and bloating. Perhaps your symptoms were caused by a bacteria which was over run and eradicated by the new fauna from the metformin and the new fauna wasn't as poorly received by your GI. Oh the wonders of the human body!

I am sure the answer is yes, but have you been following the latest trends in Metformin as an anti-aging drug? I have been hearing it in the background, but now several journals with 10+ impact factors are picking up the story...

As they say "you had my interest, but now you have my attention"

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