The University of Arizona Center for Innovation in Brain Science conducted a study to investigate whether taking medication for Type 2 diabetes increases the likelihood of developing multiple sclerosis.
According to a study from the University of Arizona Health Sciences, people over the age of 45 with Type 2 diabetes who were treated with anti-hyperglycemic medications had a higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis, particularly among women. However, the study also found that in people under the age of 45, anti-hyperglycemic exposure actually reduced the risk of multiple sclerosis.
“Our findings reinforce the need for a precision medicine approach to preventing MS in these vulnerable populations,” said lead researcher Kathleen Rodgers, Ph.D., associate director of translational neuroscience at the Center for Innovation in Brain Science.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable autoimmune neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system and leads to severe physical and cognitive disability. It is estimated that nearly 1 million adults in the U.S. and more than 2.8 million worldwide are living with MS.
For people with Type 2 diabetes, there is mounting evidence linking metabolic disorders and MS through a common driver of increased autoimmunity. This brings into question the impact of anti-hyperglycemic therapeutics used to treat Type 2 diabetes, including insulin, on the incidence of MS.
“Previous research has shown a neuroprotective effect of anti-hyperglycemic medications in Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias,” Dr. Rodgers said. “For MS, we wanted to further examine age and sex differences, particularly among men and women under 45 with Type 2 diabetes.”
They found that men older than 45 years old had a slightly significant increase of MS risk and women older than 45 years exhibited a significant increase in MS incidence after anti-hyperglycemic exposure. In addition to age differences, the risk analysis by drug class showed that exposure to insulin in patients older than 45 years old was associated with a greater increased risk compared with other therapies.
In patients younger than 45, anti-hyperglycemic exposure was protective against the development of MS.
The study utilized a U.S.-based insurance claims database of 151 million participants to identify more than 5 million patients with a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes and either early-onset or late-onset MS. Researchers segmented the data by age – patients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes prior to or after age 45 – and sex to decode the factors driving MS risk in both populations, especially in women over 45 years of age.
Reference: “Age and sex differences on anti-hyperglycemic medication exposure and risk of newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis in propensity score matched type 2 diabetics” by Gregory L. Branigan, Georgina Torrandell-Haro, Francesca Vitali, Roberta Diaz Brinton and Kathleen Rodgers, 1 October 2022, Heliyon.
The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, both divisions of the National Institutes of Health.