NOV 26, 2020 8:25 AM PST

Possible Cardioprotective Effects of the Diabetes Drug Empagliflozin

WRITTEN BY: Jasper Cantrell

Cardiovascular disease and diabetes are often associated with each other, as many issues caused by diabetes promote heart issues. It stands to reason that perhaps a diabetes drug may be able to treat cardiovascular disease.

That is what a team from the Medical University at Innsbruck in Austria thought. The drug empagliflozin is an inhibitor of a protein called sodium-glucose transporter 2 (SGLT2) and is used to treat type 2 diabetes. Surprisingly, empagliflozin has also shown cardioprotective effects in several studies, leading some to wonder if it could be a preventative drug for cardiovascular disease.

The team decided to investigate empagliflozin’s effects as a cardioprotective agent and how it might conduct its protection. The team used a relatively short-term diabetic mouse model for this study, as long-term models can sometimes result in quite variable results.

The expected short-term effects of improved insulin sensitivity were clear from the beginning. Empagliflozin therapy also reduced inflammatory and cardiac fibrosis markers compared to controls. Inflammation can cause blood flow issues in the short term, with fibrosis being a cardiovascular disease where the heart progressively stiffens until heart failure occurs.

The team also observed that a protein marker of mitochondrial mass was upregulated in empagliflozin treated mice. Electron microscopy showed that the mitochondria in the treated mice were markedly different in their structures and size than control diabetic mice. Mitochondria are critical parts of the cell, so any such changes are a big deal.

This short study identified some possible mechanisms by which empagliflozin could act as a cardioprotective agent. The reduced protein inflammatory and fibrosis markers are the clearest sign of the cardioprotective effects of empagliflozin. The mitochondrial effects were interesting, as diabetes often causes abnormal mitochondrial structures. Empagliflozin may alleviate that abnormality to some degree, which could rescue endangered cells (or enable proper cell death if need be). This study wasn’t a comprehensive one, but never the less supplied some idea for future studies to work on.

The study concludes, “Mechanistically, improved mitochondrial ultrastructure, ameliorated over-activation of insulin signaling activity and changed macrophage polarization might contribute to cardioprotective effects of empagliflozin.”

 

Sources: Nature Scientific Reports, MDLinx, Unsplash

About the Author
  • Hey everyone! My name is Jasper and, considering I am pretty new here to Labroots, I figured I would introduce myself. I received my bachelor’s from the University of California at Riverside back in 2016. I started off my career a few years ago with a job at a University over in New York, before moving over into the industry. I'm happy to be writing content for Labroots, and I hope you enjoy it!
You May Also Like
AUG 06, 2020
Cardiology
Identifying a Prognostic Biomarker for Neurological Deterioration After a Stroke
AUG 06, 2020
Identifying a Prognostic Biomarker for Neurological Deterioration After a Stroke
Strokes are life-changing events that can cause a myriad of issues even after it is over. Plenty of tests, such as the n ...
SEP 08, 2020
Cardiology
Fixing Stem Cell Therapy for Heart Repair
SEP 08, 2020
Fixing Stem Cell Therapy for Heart Repair
Repairing the damage done by a heart attack has been of keen interest for decades. Some researchers think protecting the ...
SEP 16, 2020
Cardiology
Stem Cells Can Generate a 3D Mini-Model of the Heart
SEP 16, 2020
Stem Cells Can Generate a 3D Mini-Model of the Heart
The heart is a special organ, and while we know a lot about how it develops, there are still mysteries.
OCT 01, 2020
Cardiology
Investigating Inflammation in Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts
OCT 01, 2020
Investigating Inflammation in Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts
The heart is a vital part of the body that can last one hundred years, yet even a small change can cause massive consequ ...
OCT 14, 2020
Immunology
Happiness Linked to Heart Attack Risk
OCT 14, 2020
Happiness Linked to Heart Attack Risk
Asking patients questions about their personal lives could predict their future risk of a heart attack. A study, publish ...
DEC 09, 2020
Immunology
Antibodies as Warning Signs of a Silent Cardiovascular Killer
DEC 09, 2020
Antibodies as Warning Signs of a Silent Cardiovascular Killer
In atherosclerosis, cholesterol and other fatty deposits build up around the inner walls of an artery, creating a plaque ...
Loading Comments...