A new study evaluated colchicine, a drug used for gout treatment, to improve a complication of diabetes called metabolic syndrome.
Approximately one-third of adults in the United States have metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions such as increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, increased body fat, and increased cholesterol and triglyceride levels occurring together which can increase risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Although metabolic syndrome is strongly related to obesity and lack of activity, it is also related to insulin resistance which causes blood sugar levels to increase. The risk of metabolic syndrome increases with age along with the following other conditions: ethnicity, as Hispanic women in the United States are at the greatest risk, obesity, along with diabetes. The best approach to preventing metabolic syndrome is committing to a healthy lifestyle by exercising on most days, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking.
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health published a study in the journal Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism discussing how the drug colchicine, used for gout treatment, may decrease complications from metabolic syndrome since it prevents the formation of a large protein complex which promotes inflammation resulting from obesity.
Several previous studies have demonstrated that obesity contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes, therefore, the researchers thought that colchicine can prevent the development of type 2 diabetes in obesity by preventing inflammation.
Twenty-one participants were randomly assigned to receive colchicine twice a day for 3 months and 19 participants received a placebo. The main focus of the study was how well insulin worked to clear sugar from the blood and the researchers also investigated changes in other metabolic variables and markers of inflammation.
There was no difference between the two groups in insulin resistance determined by one measure of insulin use (the frequently sampled, insulin-modified intravenous glucose tolerance test). However, the colchicine group showed improvement on the Homeostatic Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance test, which also estimates how much insulin is needed to keep blood sugar at a normal level while fasting. Those in the colchicine group also scored lower on a blood test of C-reactive protein and other tests that indicate inflammation.
The authors concluded that larger studies are needed to determine if colchicine could prevent the development of type 2 diabetes in people with metabolic syndrome.
Written by Tatsiana Verstak, MS, BS
- Demidowich, A.P.et al. Effects of colchicine in adults with metabolic syndrome: A pilot randomized controlled trial.Diabetes ObesMetab. 2019 Mar 14. doi: 10.1111/dom.13702.
- Mayo Clinic. Metabolic Syndrome. Last updated March 14, 2019.