Arthritis drug lowers blood sugar

It’s only natural that an arthritic alleviant would have joint aspirations. Nevertheless, the latest findings from the Joslin Diabetes Center regarding the glycemic controlling properties inherent in arthritis drug salsalate still come as a pleasant surprise.

According to researchers, the anti-inflammatory abilities of salsalate lend themselves well to many regions, not just those on rotary, and lower blood glucose levels in patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. As inflammation plays a significant role in the development of type 2 diabetes, the pursuit of salsalate seemed reasonable, Steven Shoelson, MD, PhD, head of the section on Pathophysiology and Molecular Pharmacology and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, noted.

Scientists observed the effects of salsalate on a total of 108 patients with type 2 diabetes over the course of 14 weeks in stage 1 of the study; the current results consider stage 2 of the investigation, which followed 286 patients with the same characteristics over the duration of 48 weeks. All blood glucose levels in both stages were controlled via current diabetes medications and participants were divided between salsalate groups and placebo groups.

The mean hemoglobin A1c level following 48 weeks was reported to be 37 percent lower in the salsalate group than in those administered placebos. Additionally, fasting glucose levels were 15 mg/dl greater in the salsalate group and such patients also required fewer additional diabetes medications to keep their blood sugar levels under control.

"It's exciting that salsalate is effective in lowering blood sugar," said Allison Goldfine, MD, lead author and head of the Section of Clinical, Behavioral and Outcomes Research, and an associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, in a news release. "Salsalate may have an important role in diabetes treatment and may also help us learn more about how inflammation contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes."

Furthermore, other marked improvements regarding coronary risk were listed as follows:  

  • 9 percent reduction in triglycerides.
  • 27 percent increase in adiponectin, a potentially cardioprotective protein from adipocytes.
  • Uric acid, which is associated with cardiometabolic conditions and progression of renal disease, decreased 18 percent in the salsalate group.

"The reductions in these cardiovascular risk factors paralleled improved glycemia," added Goldfine.

Currently, Goldfine and crew are investigating salsalate’s influence on heart disease through the study of the drug’s affect on coronary artery plaque volume in subjects suffering from coronary artery disease.

"The study will help us better understand the risk/benefit ratio of using salsalate to treat diabetes," she concluded.

The study was published in a recent edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine.