Diabetes Obes Metab 21 (2) 412-416 [2019-02-00; online 2018-10-02]
Produced as a tissue defence response to hypoxia and inflammation, growth differentiation factor-15 (GDF-15) is elevated in people receiving metformin treatment. To gain insight into the relationship of GDF-15 with metformin and major cardiovascular risk factors, we analysed the data from the SUMMIT cohort (n = 1438), a four-centre, nested, case-control study aimed at verifying whether biomarkers of atherosclerosis differ according to the presence of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. While in univariate analysis, major cardiovascular risk factors, with the exception of gender and cholesterol, increased similarly and linearly across GDF-15 quartiles, the independent variables associated with GDF-15, both in participants with and without diabetes, were age, plasma creatinine, N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide, diuretic use, smoking exposure and glycated haemoglobin. In participants with diabetes, metformin treatment was associated with a 40% rise in GDF-15 level, which was independent of the other major factors, and largely explained their elevated GDF-15 levels. The relatively high GDF-15 bioavailability might partly explain the protective cardiovascular effects of metformin.