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Minerva Endocrinologica 2018 September;43(3):246-52

DOI: 10.23736/S0391-1977.17.02626-8

Copyright © 2017 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Renal function markers and metformin eligibility

Carlos TAVARES BELLO 1 , Ricardo CASTRO FONSECA 1, Francisco SOUSA SANTOS 1, João SEQUEIRA DUARTE 1, Jorge AZINHEIRA 2, Carlos VASCONCELOS 1

1 Endocrinology Service, Egas Moniz Hospital, West Lisbon Hospital Center, Lisbon, Portugal; 2 Clinical Pathology Service, West Lisbon Hospital Center, Lisbon, Portugal


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BACKGROUND: Metformin is the cornerstone of the pharmacological therapy for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). It belongs to the biguanide class of drugs and it improves hepatic insulin resistance and enhances GLP-1 and peptide YY secretion. Despite being considered safe regarding hypoglycemic risk, renal dysfunction remains the main obstacle to its use due to the underlying risk of lactic acidosis. In the recent past many authors used creatinine values as the decisive marker when it came to choose between pharmacological agents in DM. Serum creatinine values equal or above 1.4 and 1.5 mg/dL were considered contraindications for metformin use in women and men respectively. Nowadays, creatinine is not the only surrogate of renal dysfunction and formulas such as the MDRD and CKD-EPI, that besides serum creatinine also include variables such as gender, age and race, have replaced serum creatinine as the standard for renal function assessment. Furthermore, since the associations between metformin and lactic acidosis in renal disease are not straightforward, its use has been considered safe down to creatinine clearances of 30 mL/min/1.73 m2. The authors describe a population with T2DM being treated with metformin and evaluate the impact of the solo evaluation of serum creatinine or CKD-EPI on biguanide prescription.
METHODS: Retrospective, observational, single-center study. All type 2 diabetic patients with regular follow up in a Central University Hospital Endocrinology-Diabetology Outpatient Clinic who were being treated with metformin and had at least 2 creatinine and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) measurements in the last decade were included. Patients were stratified according to renal function-based metformin contraindication criteria: creatinine group included patients with serum creatinine levels above 1.4 and 1.5 mg/dL in women and men respectively, and eGFR group included patients with eGFR below 30 mL/min/1.73 m2. The entire population and both groups are described and compared regarding comorbidities, demographic and laboratory data. The authors report the impact of each renal function marker (serum creatinine or eGFR) when used solo regarding metformin prescription eligibility.
RESULTS: A total of 2218 patients (61.3% females) with a mean age of 70±12 years is studied. Mean diabetes duration was 11.8±8.8 years. No cases with an eGFR below 30 mL/min/1.73 m2 were identified. On the other hand, in patients with GFR greater than 30 mL/min/1.73 m2, creatinine alone would contraindicate therapy in 274 patients (12.4% of the study population). Comparing Stage 3 chronic kidney disease patients without creatinine contraindication criteria with those with creatinine based contraindication, the data reveals that a higher prevalence of males, with longer diabetes duration, higher target organ damage (cerebrovascular disease, peripheral artery disease, heart failure, neuropathy and retinopathy) and with worse glycemic control were prevalent more in the elevated creatinine group. The use of serum creatinine as the single marker for renal function would significantly reduce metformin eligibility (OR=0.88, 95% CI: 0.8-0.95, P=0.002).
CONCLUSIONS: Metformin is the first line pharmacological agent in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients, being associated with significant HbA1c reductions and improvements in both micro and macrovascular outcomes. Avoiding its use due to imprecise renal function markers would potentially render the patient deprived of optimal pharmacological therapy for T2DM. Creatinine contraindication criteria alone are associated with unnecessary under prescription of metformin.


KEY WORDS: Metformin - Chronic renal insufficiency - Creatinine - Cystatin C - Lactic acidosis

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