GLITAZONES (GTZ), a type of drug prescribed to Type 2 diabetes patients to improve insulin sensitivity, may convey protective qualities against Parkinson’s disease, suggests a study performed at the University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.
There have been numerous studies linking Type 2 diabetes millitus to the onset of Parkinson’s disease; however, the exact mechanisms are still unknown.1,2,3 Leading on from these association studies research on the link between GTZ and Parkinson’s had proven inconclusive, so researchers set out to elucidate this relationship by analysing data from the Norwegian Prescription Database. Between January 2005 and December 2014, 94,349 patients were identified using metaformin, the primary drug prescribed to Type 2 diabetes patients, and 8,396 using GTZ. When compared, the GTZ group reported a 28% decrease in the development of Parkinson’s disease.
Whilst the mechanism behind this finding remains unclear, researchers speculate that GTZ may improve the function of mitochondria. The team previously found Parkinson’s disease to be linked to a reduction in mitochondrial production, thus “it is possible that GTZ drugs ameliorate these defects by increasing mitochondria DNA synthesis and overall mitochondrial mass,” explained co-author Charalampos Tzoulis, University of Bergen. “If we understand the mechanisms behind the protection, then we have a chance to develop a new treatment,” he added. It was noted that patients on other anti-diabetes drugs were not found to be at a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
The study was limited in a number of ways, such as a lack of information about GTZ/metaformin dosage and diabetes stage, and as such its results cannot be generalised to the population as a whole because the study only included those diagnosed with diabetes. Nonetheless, this innovative study presents a possible novel treatment for a challenging disease and highlights the importance of interdisciplinary exploration. “We have made an important discovery, which takes us a step further toward solving the Parkinson’s riddle,” concluded Tzoulis.
- Hu G et al. Type 2 diabetes and the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Diabetes Care. 2007;30(4):842-7.
- Xu Q et al. Diabetes risk of Parkinson’s disease. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(4):910-5.
- Sun Y et al. Risk of Parkinson’s disease inset in patients with diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2012;35(5):1047-9.