Metformin is considered the gold standard for type 2 diabetes treatment as monotherapy and in combination with sulphonylureas and insulin. The combination of metformin with thiazolidinediones is less well studied. The aim of the present study was to assess the differential effect, and tolerability, of metformin combined with pioglitazone or rosiglitazone on glucose, coagulation and fibrinolysis parameters in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome.
This 12-month, multicentre, double-blind, randomized, controlled, parallel-group trial was conducted at three study sites in Italy. We assessed patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (duration >or=6 months) and with metabolic syndrome. All patients were required to have poor glycaemic control with diet, or experienced adverse effects with diet and metformin, administered up to the maximum tolerated dose. Patients were randomized to receive either pioglitazone or rosiglitazone self-administered for 12 months. We assessed body mass index (BMI), glycaemic control [glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA(1c)), fasting and postprandial plasma glucose and insulin levels (FPG, PPG, FPI, and PPI respectively), homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) index], lipid profile [total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) and triglycerides (TG)], lipoprotein (a) [Lp(a)] and homocysteine (HCT) at baseline and at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months of treatment.
No BMI change was observed at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months in either group. Significant HbA(1c) decreases were observed at 9 and 12 months in both groups. After 9 and 12 months, mean FPG and PPG levels decreased in both groups. Decreases in FPI and PPI were observed at 9 and 12 months compared with the baseline in both groups. Furthermore, in both groups, the HOMA index improved but only at 12 months. Significant TC, LDL-C, HDL-C, TG improvement was present in the pioglitazone group at 12 months compared with the baseline values, and these variations were significantly different between groups. No TC, LDL-C, TG improvement was present in the rosiglitazone group after 12 months. Significant Lp(a) and HCT improvement was present in the pioglitazone group at 12 months compared with the baseline values, and Lp(a) change was significant compared with the rosiglitazone group. Significant HCT decrease was observed in the rosiglitazone group at the end of the study. In our type 2 diabetic patients, both drugs were safe and effective for glycaemic control and improving HCT plasma levels. However, long-term treatment with metformin plus pioglitazone significantly reduced Lp(a) plasma levels, whereas metformin + rosiglitazone did not.
For patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome, combined treatment with metformin and rosiglitazone or pioglitazone is safe and effective, However, the pioglitazone combination also reduced the plasma Lp(a) levels whereas the rosiglitazone combination did not.