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Variation in the plasma membrane monoamine transporter (PMAT, encoded in SLC29A4) and organic cation transporter 1 (OCT1, encoded in SLC22A1) and gastrointestinal intolerance to metformin in type 2 diabetes: an IMI DIRECT study

By Adem Y Dawed, Kaixin Zhou, Nienke van Leeuwen, Anubha Mahajan, Neil Robertson, Robert Koivula, Petra JM Elders, Simone P Rauh, Angus G Jones, Reinhard W Holl, Julia C. Stingl, Paul W Franks, Mark I McCarthy, Leen ‘t Hart, Ewan R Pearson, for the IMI DIRECT Consortium.

Posted 06 Oct 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/436980 (published DOI: 10.2337/dc18-2182)

Objectives: 20-30% of patients with metformin treated type 2 diabetes experience gastrointestinal side effects leading to premature discontinuation in 5-10% of the cases. Gastrointestinal intolerance may reflect localised high concentrations of metformin in the gut. We hypothesized that reduced transport of metformin into the circulation via the plasma membrane monoamine transporter (PMAT) and organic cation transporter 1 (OCT1) could increase the risk of severe GI side effects. Research Design and Methods: The study included 286 severe metformin intolerant and 1128 tolerant individuals from the IMI DIRECT consortium. We assessed the association of patient characteristics, concomitant medication and the burden of mutations in the SLC29A4 and SLC22A1, genes that encode PMAT and OCT1, respectively, on odds of metformin intolerance using a logistic regression model. Results: Women (p < 0.001) and older people (p < 0.001) were more likely to develop metformin intolerance. Concomitant use of metformin transporter inhibiting drugs increased the odds of intolerance by more than 70% (OR = 1.72 [1.26-2.32], p < 0.001). In a logistic regression model adjusted for age, sex, weight and population substructure, the G allele at rs3889348 (SLC29A4) was associated with GI intolerance (OR = 1.34[1.09-1.65], p = 0.005). rs3889348 is the top cis-eQTL for SLC29A4 in gut tissue where carriers of the G allele had reduced expression. Homozygous carriers of the G allele treated with metformin transporter inhibiting drugs had over three times higher odds of intolerance compared to carriers of no G allele and not treated with inhibiting drugs (OR = 3.23 [1.71-6.39], p < 0.001). Using a genetic risk score (GRS) derived from SLC29A4 (rs3889348) and previously reported SLC22A1 variants (M420del, R61C, G401S), the odds of intolerance was more than twice in individuals who carry three or more risk alleles compared with those carrying none (OR = 2.15 [1.20-4.12], p = 0.01). Conclusions: These results suggest that intestinal metformin transporters and concomitant medications play an important role in gastrointestinal side effects of metformin.

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