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Metformin, an old anti-diabetic that extends lifespan
The diabetes drug metformin may be slowing the rate at which people age. People in their seventies who take metformin are at least a few years younger on a molecular level than their peers who do not take metformin. That, and much more, is what the most recent blog post on increaselifespan.net is all about. [increaselifespan.net, November 2, 2022]
Half of the men had been taking 500 milligrams of metformin a day for at least five years to control their diabetes, the other half were taking other medications.
The researchers extracted the DNA from the men's blood cells and determined how many methyl groups were attached to important genes in that DNA. As organisms age, more methyl groups become attached to genes. As a result, the genes sometimes function less well.
The number of methylated genes in your DNA therefore says something about the rate at which you age. The more methylated genes, the faster your biological clock ticks at the DNA level.
Metformin reduces the production of glucose by the liver by activating the enzyme AMPK. AMPK also activates a variety of processes that inhibit aging. You can read more about the mechanism of action of metformin as a potential aging drug at increaselifespan.net. [increaselifespan.net, November 2, 2022]
Click on the figure below for a larger version.
According to all three tests, the number of methylated genes was less in the study participants who took metformin than in the other group. In two tests this difference was statistically significant, in one it was not.
In the figure below, the researchers have expressed the difference in years. The use of metformin could delay the ticking of the biological clock in the DNA by several years.
"There are still some lifestyle factors that can influence DNA methylation, such as any potential difference between diet and physical activity levels among the groups."
"Although all of the participants reported that they were on a normal diabetic diet, we know that the Chinese diet is complex and these factors cannot be compared in most cases because we try to avoid the effects of diet on DNA methylation levels."