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J Intern Med. 2005 Sep;258(3):250-6.

Metformin improves endothelial function in patients with metabolic syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Medical Sciences, Cardiovascular Research Unit, IRCCS San Raffaele, Roma, Tosinvest Sanita, Rome, Italy.



Metabolic Syndrome (MS) is associated with impaired endothelial function and increased cardiovascular risk. Insulin resistance is a key feature of MS and plays an important role in the pathogenesis of endothelial dysfunction. Aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of metformin on endothelial function and insulin resistance, assessed by the homeostasis model (HOMA-IR, homeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance), in patients with MS.


Sixty-five subjects (37 men and 28 women, mean age 54 +/- 6 years) with MS were allocated to receive metformin 500 mg twice daily (n = 32) or placebo (n = 33) for 3 months. Before and after treatment we assessed endothelial function, using flow-mediated dilatation of the brachial artery, and HOMA-IR.


Patients who received metformin demonstrated statistically significant improvement in endothelium-dependent vasodilation compared with those treated with placebo (from 7.4 +/- 2.1% to 12.4 +/- 1.9% vs. 7.3 +/- 2.5% to 6.9 +/- 2.7%, P = 0.0016, metformin vs. placebo respectively), without significant effect on endothelium-independent response to sublingual glyceryl trinitrate (P =0.32). Metformin improved insulin resistance compared with placebo group (HOMA-IR from 3.39 to 2.5 vs. 3.42 to 3.37; 26% reduction in HOMA-IR, P = 0.01). An association between the improvement in insulin resistance and the improvement in endothelial function (r = -0.58, P = 0.0016) was found.


Metformin improves both endothelial function and insulin resistance in patients with MS. These findings support the central role of insulin resistance in the development of endothelial dysfunction and the role of metformin for the treatment of patients with MS.

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