Diabetes Self-Management Blog

The inexpensive anti-inflammatory drug salsalate, used to treat arthritis, lowers inflammation and blood glucose levels in people who have Type 2 diabetes, according to findings from stage two of the TINSAL-T2D study. Previous research has shown that inflammation plays a role in the development of Type 2.

Stage one of TINSAL-T2D (Targeting Inflammation Using Salsalate for Type 2 Diabetes), conducted by researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center, compared various doses of the medicine in 108 people with Type 2 diabetes for 14 weeks. In stage two, the scientists investigated the use of the medicine in 286 people with Type 2 for 48 weeks. The participants, whose blood glucose levels were inadequately controlled by conventional diabetes medicines, were randomly selected to receive either 3.5 grams a day of salsalate in addition to their current therapies or a placebo (inactive treatment) along with their current therapies.

At the end of the study period, the average A1C level (a measure of glucose control over the previous 2–3 months) was 37% lower in the salsalate group than in the placebo group. Members of the salsalate group also experienced a 15 mg/dl greater drop in fasting blood glucose levels and required fewer additional diabetes medicines to control their blood glucose than those in the placebo group.

There were also improvements in markers of heart health in the salsalate group, including a 9% reduction in triglycerides (a type of blood fat) and a 27% increase in adiponectin, a potentially heart-healthy protein. Uric acid, which is associated with certain heart conditions and the progression of kidney failure, fell by 18% in the salsalate group. The anti-inflammatory effects of the medicine were confirmed by decreases in circulating levels of certain types of white blood cells.

Along with all the benefits, salsalate use was associated with a number of drawbacks, including a modest increases in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and urine albumin (protein), as well as a slight weight gain.

“It’s exciting that salsalate is effective in lowering blood sugar. Salsalate may have an important role in diabetes treatment and may also help us learn more about how inflammation contributes to the development of Type 2 diabetes,” noted lead study author Allison Goldfine, MD.

The researchers are currently conducting a trial to investigate salsalate’s effects on the progression of heart disease. “The study will help us better understand the risk/benefit ratio of using salsalate to treat diabetes,” said Dr. Goldfine.

For more information, read the article “Salsalate Lowers Blood Glucose in Type 2 Diabetes, Study Suggests,” or see the study’s abstract in the Annals of Internal Medicine. And to learn more about salsalate, click here.

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