Type 2 diabetes medication thiazolidinediones could prevent Parkinson’s disease

Type 2 diabetes medication thiazolidinediones could prevent Parkinsons disease

Taking the type 2 diabetes drug thiazolidinediones (TZDs), also known as glitazones, could help prevent the development of Parkinson’s disease, according to a new study.

Norwegian researchers say those who use TZDs could lower their chances of developing the neurological condition by 35 per cent.

Lead co-author Charalampos Tzoulis, from the Department of Clinical Medicine at the University of Bergen (UiB), said: “We have made an important discovery, which takes us a step further towards solving the Parkinson’s riddle.”

TZDs are a group of oral anti-diabetic drugs designed to treat patients with type 2 diabetes. They help to lower insulin resistance, improve blood glucose control and also lower blood pressure.

The research team thinks the medication helps protect against Parkinson’s disease because it encourages the cells to make more mitochondria, which absorbs nutrients needed to create molecules for energy within the cells. Previous work carried out by the same team had already proven that mitochondria production can lower Parkinson’s risk.

The trial was based upon data from the Norwegian Prescription Database which was compared and analysed against different outcomes of diabetes medications. The system stored information from across a decade and on more than 100 million prescriptions.

In the data, there were 94,349 users of metformin and 8,396 of TZDs. The users of TZDs were found to have a 28 per cent lower incidence of developing Parkinson’s disease compared with the users of metformin.

The way the study has been run leaves a certain amount of doubt whether the lower risk was entirely down to TZD use. However, the results are significant enough to warrant further research.

More work is set to be carried out to further understand the link between the medication and Parkinson’s and how it could aid future therapies. Tzoulis added: “If we understand the mechanisms behind the protection, then we have a chance to develop a new treatment.”

At the moment there is no cure for the condition, but there are lots of treatments and therapies available for people to use to try to manage it. It is thought there are about 127,000 people in the UK with the condition and most are aged 50 or over, according to the charity Parkinson’s UK.

The findings of the study were published in the Movement Disordersjournal.


Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common long-term health conditions
Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common long-term health conditions

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that results in hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) due to the body:

  • Being ineffective at using the insulin it has produced; also known as insulin resistance and/or
  • Being unable to produce enough insulin

Type 2 diabetes is characterised by the body being unable to metabolise glucose (a simple sugar). This leads to high levels of blood glucose which over time may damage the organs of the body.

From this, it can be understood that for someone with diabetes something that is food for ordinary people can become a sort of metabolic poison.

This is why people with diabetes are advised to avoid sources of dietary sugar.

The good news is for very many people with type 2 diabetes this is all they have to do to stay well. If you can keep your blood sugar lower by avoiding dietary sugar, likely you will never need long-term medication.

Type 2 diabetes was formerly known as non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes due to its occurrence mainly in people over 40. However, type 2 diabetes is now becoming more common in young adults, teens and children and accounts for roughly 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide.

How serious is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a serious medical condition that often requires the use of anti-diabetic medication, or insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control. However, the development of type 2 diabetes and its side effects (complications) can be prevented if detected and treated at an early stage.

In recent years, it has become apparent that many people with type 2 diabetes are able to reverse diabetes through methods including low-carb diets, very-low-calorie diets and exercise.

For guidance on healthy eating to improve blood glucose levels and weight and to fight back against insulin resistance, join the Low Carb Program.

Following pre-diabetes or metabolic disorder, type 2 diabetes can potentially be avoided through diet and exercise.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the hormone insulin is not used effectively by the cells in your body. Insulin is needed for cells to take in glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream and convert it into energy.

Ineffective use of insulin results in the body becoming resistant to insulin – also known as insulin resistance, which in turn causes blood sugar levels to rise (hyperglycemia).

In advanced stages, type 2 diabetes may cause damage to insulin producing…