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Empagliflozin improves insulin sensitivity of the hypothalamus in humans with prediabetes: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 2 trial.

Diabetes Care 45, 398-406 (2021)
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OBJECTIVE: Insulin action in the human brain reduces food intake, improves whole-body insulin sensitivity, and modulates body fat mass and its distribution. Obesity and type 2 diabetes are often associated with brain insulin resistance, resulting in impaired brain-derived modulation of peripheral metabolism. So far, no pharmacological treatment for brain insulin resistance has been established. Since sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors lower glucose levels and modulate energy metabolism, we hypothesized that SGLT2 inhibition may be a pharmacological approach to reverse brain insulin resistance. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 40 patients (mean ± SD; age 60 ± 9 years; BMI 31.5 ± 3.8 kg/m2) with prediabetes were randomized to receive 25 mg empagliflozin every day or placebo. Before and after 8 weeks of treatment, brain insulin sensitivity was assessed by functional MRI combined with intranasal administration of insulin to the brain. RESULTS: We identified a significant interaction between time and treatment in the hypothalamic response to insulin. Post hoc analyses revealed that only empagliflozin-treated patients experienced increased hypothalamic insulin responsiveness. Hypothalamic insulin action significantly mediated the empagliflozin-induced decrease in fasting glucose and liver fat. CONCLUSIONS: Our results corroborate insulin resistance of the hypothalamus in humans with prediabetes. Treatment with empagliflozin for 8 weeks was able to restore hypothalamic insulin sensitivity, a favorable response that could contribute to the beneficial effects of SGLT2 inhibitors. Our findings position SGLT2 inhibition as the first pharmacological approach to reverse brain insulin resistance, with potential benefits for adiposity and whole-body metabolism.
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Publication type Article: Journal article
Document type Scientific Article
ISSN (print) / ISBN 0149-5992
e-ISSN 1935-5548
Journal Diabetes Care
Quellenangaben Volume: 45, Issue: 2, Pages: 398-406 Article Number: , Supplement: ,
Publisher American Diabetes Association
Publishing Place Alexandria, Va.
Reviewing status Peer reviewed
Grants Boehringer Ingelheim