Can Metformin aid post-surgery recovery in seniors?

Can Metformin aid post-surgery recovery in seniors?

The Potential Benefits of Metformin for Older Adults in Recovery

diabetes drug

The diabetes drug metformin may offer more than just blood sugar regulation for older patients. According to a small study, metformin has shown potential benefits in targeting senescent cells and reducing muscle wasting in older individuals recovering from injuries or illnesses. This finding opens up new possibilities for the drug’s application in various muscle-loss-related clinical conditions.

Senescent cells, known as “zombie-like” cells, release chemicals that contribute to inflammation and can cause tissues to harden or scar. The study suggests that metformin, in addition to its blood sugar regulation properties, can counteract the senescent properties of these cells. This discovery is particularly relevant for elderly individuals recovering from hip or knee surgeries, where inflammation and muscle atrophy are common challenges. Lead researcher Jonathan Petrocelli, a graduate research assistant at the University of Utah, believes that the study only scratches the surface of metformin’s potential and that more research is needed to fully understand the recovery process after periods of disuse.

The study recruited 20 healthy men and women aged 60 years or older. Participants were divided into two groups: one receiving metformin and the other a placebo. Over two weeks, the groups continued their respective treatments while resting in bed for five days. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to monitor muscle loss during this inactive period.

The results of the study showed that metformin exhibited protective effects against muscle loss, fibrosis (scarring), and markers of inflammation. These effects were attributed to metformin’s anti-cellular properties. By targeting and reducing the secretions of senescent cells, therapies like metformin could potentially enhance muscle recovery. Petrocelli suggests further research regarding the administration of metformin or similar therapies during the recovery period to determine if it can expedite the recovery process.

Dr. Irina Dashkova, associate medical director of geriatric and palliative care at Northwell Health Stern Family Center for Rehab, expressed her admiration for the study’s impressive findings. However, she emphasized that metformin should not be initiated in a hospital due to its impact on kidney function. Dashkova highlights the need for additional research to determine if using metformin for muscle protection could unintentionally damage the kidneys. Therefore, taking metformin solely as an anti-aging drug to preserve muscle function would currently be unwise due to its potential side effects.

The study’s findings were published on July 25th in the journal Aging Cell. It is important to note that while the study provides valuable insights, further research is necessary before metformin can be widely recognized as an anti-aging drug.

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In summary, the study suggests that metformin, a commonly used diabetes drug, may have additional benefits beyond regulating blood sugar. It has shown potential in targeting senescent cells that contribute to muscle wasting and scarring. By reducing the secretions of these cells, metformin may promote better muscle recovery in older individuals following injuries or illnesses. However, additional research is required to determine the safety and efficacy of metformin in this context. While the findings are promising, it is important to consult with healthcare professionals before considering metformin as an anti-aging drug or using it for purposes beyond its intended use.