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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1996 Apr;81(4):1568-74.

Improvement of insulin sensitivity by metformin treatment does not lower blood pressure of nonobese insulin-resistant hypertensive patients with normal glucose tolerance.

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  • 1Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Padova, Italy.


Nine hypertensive patients with body mass indexes between 24-27 kg/m2 and normal glucose tolerance with at least a postchallenge plasma insulin level greater than 360 pmol/L were recruited for a double blind, cross-over study with metformin (850 mg, twice daily) and placebo. Each treatment lasted 1 month. Before and after each treatment, hormone and substrate concentrations were determined, blood pressure was monitored over 24 h, and insulin sensitivity was measured by a euglycemic (4.7 mmol/L) hyperinsulinemic (450 pmol/L) clamp study. Renal cation excretion and erythrocyte membrane cation heteroexchange were measured. Metformin, compared to placebo, did not affect body weight (70 +/- 7 vs. 70 +/- 7 kg), fasting plasma glucose (4.8 +/- 0.1 vs. 4.8 +/- 0.1 mmol/L), total cholesterol (5.38+/0.33 vs. 5.48 +/- 0.38 mmol/L), or triglycerides (1.73 +/- 0.72 vs. 1.91 0.89 mmol/L). Nevertheless, after metformin treatment, the plasma high density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration increased (1.42 +/- 0.18 vs. 1.34 0.16 mmol/L), and the plasma insulin level dropped (62 +/- 10 vs. 88+/- 12 pmol/L; both P < 0.05). Insulin-mediated glucose disposal was higher after metformin treatment (26.1 +/- 2.4 vs. 19.3 +/- 2.3 micromol/min x kg; P < 0.01), whereas hepatic glucose production was completely suppressed. These positive metformin-induced metabolic effects were not associated with a significant change in mean daily blood pressure levels (141 +/- 6/89 +/- 3 vs. 142 +/- 7/90 +/- 3 mm Hg). Compared to placebo, metformin increased the excretion of sodium, potassium, and lithium by enhancing their glomerular filtration rate. Na+/Li+ countertransport was not affected by metformin. However, the apparent affinity for H+ of Na+/H+ exchange was increased, and the Hill coefficient was decreased. In conclusion, 1 month of metformin administration to patients with essential hypertension and normal glucose tolerance 1) reduces the basal plasma insulin concentration, 2) improves whole body insulin-mediated glucose utilization, and 3) improves plasma high density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Despite these positive effects, metformin did not reduce arterial blood pressure.

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