Some studies indicate potential beneficial effects of metformin on body composition and bone. This trial compared metformin + insulin vs placebo + insulin. Metformin treatment had a small but positive effect on bone quality in the peripheral skeleton, reduced weight gain, and resulted in a more beneficial body composition compared with placebo in insulin-treated patients with type 2 diabetes.
INTRODUCTION: Glucose-lowering medications affect body composition. We assessed the long-term effects of metformin compared with placebo on whole body bone and body composition measures in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
METHODS: This was a sub-study of the Copenhagen Insulin and Metformin Therapy trial, which was a double-blinded randomized placebo-controlled trial assessing 18-month treatment with metformin compared with placebo, in combination with different insulin regimens in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The sub-study evaluates the effects on bone mineral content (BMC), density (BMD), and body composition from whole body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans which were assessed at baseline and after 18 months.
RESULTS: Metformin had a small, but positive, (p < 0.05) effect on subtotal, appendicular, and legs BMC and BMD compared with placebo. After adjustment for sex, age, vitamin D, smoking, BMI, T2DM duration, HbA1c, and insulin dose, the effects on appendicular BMC and BMD persisted (p < 0.05 for both). The changes in appendicular BMC and BMD corresponded approximately to a 0.7% and 0.5% increase in the metformin group and 0.4% and 0.4% decrease in the placebo group, respectively. These effects were mostly driven by an increase in BMC and BMD in the legs and a loss of BMC and BMD in the arms. During 18 months, all participants increased in weight, fat mass (FM), FM%, and lean mass (LM), but decreased in LM%. The metformin group increased less in weight (subtotal weight (weight-head) - 2.4 [- 3.5, - 1.4] kg, p value < 0.001) and FM (- 1.5 [- 2.3, - 0.8] kg, p value < 0.001) and decreased less in LM% (0.6 [0.2, 1.1] %, p value < 0.001) compared with the placebo group.
CONCLUSION: Metformin treatment had a small positive effect on BMC and BMD in the peripheral skeleton and reduced weight gain compared with placebo in insulin-treated patients with T2DM.