Metformin, an anti-diabetes drug, has been found to be effective to curb Covid-19 severity and mortality. The medicine used for bringing down blood sugar levels can prevent pulmonary or lung inflammation, the main factor in the severity of Covid 19.
Researchers at the University of California San Diego, along with a multi-institution subordinate team, could identify the molecular mechanism for the anti-inflammatory activity of metformin, commonly prescribed for Type 2 diabetes. The medicine lowers glucose production in the liver, thereby improving the body's response to insulin. Researchers have also observed that metformin contains properties that work against inflammation.
The scientist monitored a mouse suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which constitutes a life-threatening condition due to fluid leakage in the lungs. Such a leakage leads to difficulty in breathing and restricts oxygen supply to essential organs. ARDS, which is triggered by trauma and bacterial or viral infections, is a recurrent cause of the death of hospitalised Covid-19 patients.
According to the findings published online in the journal Immunity, administering metformin to mice before or after exposure to bacterial endotoxin, a surrogate for bacterial pneumonia, inhibited ARDS onset and lessened its symptoms. Metformin also produced a marked reduction in mortality in endotoxin-challenged mice and inhibited IL-1beta production and inflammasome assembly within alveolar macrophages, which are immune cells found in the lungs.
IL-1beta and IL-6, small proteins called cytokines, and their amounts are often highly elevated in persons infected by SARS-CoV-2, creating "cytokine storms" in which the body starts attacking its cells and tissues.
Production of IL-1beta depends on a large protein complex called the inflammasome, whose presence in lung tissue is found to be highly increased in deceased Covid-19 patients, researchers said. They also indicated metformin's therapeutic possibility for treating several neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases in which inflammasome activation is a factor.