Type 2 Diabetes – Does This Diabetic Medication Help With Psoriasis As Well As Lower Blood Sugar?

Psoriasis is a skin condition seen more in diabetics than in non-diabetics. Controlling it can mean a lifetime of frustration. According to an article published in the journal Diabetes and Metabolism in January 2012, the diabetes drug exenatide (Byetta) could become one more addition to the armamentarium of drugs used to treat psoriasis.

A 61-year-old man with a body mass index of 25.5 and Type 2 diabetes treated with metformin and sulphonylureas for diabetes and steroids for psoriasis, had exenatide, or Byetta, added to his diabetic regimen. His weight and HbA1c levels went down and, unexpectedly, his psoriasis also improved dramatically.

One year later his psoriasis was still under control. When he stopped taking exenatide he gained weight, showed an increase in his HbA1c percentage, and had a psoriatic flare-up. After beginning exenatide or Byetta again, he once more found the psoriasis quickly improved.

From this information, it was speculated that exenatide altered the diabetic’s immune system.

What is psoriasis? Psoriasis is classed as an autoimmune disorder, meaning the immune system attacks cells of the patient’s body. The resulting inflammation causes skin cells to reproduce much more rapidly than normal and to slough off in white scales, leaving angry, itchy, red lesions behind. Like Type 2 diabetes, psoriasis is frequently associated with overweight and obesity.

Psoriasis is extremely variable in its duration and course. A single lesion may persist for a lifetime or many lesions may be present. Some people are never free of the disease while others have long remissions.

According to the State University of New York at Buffalo, United States, exenatide (Byetta) is an anti-inflammatory drug. An injection of exenatide was followed by an anti-inflammatory effect as soon as 5 minutes later, and the effect was still seen 12 weeks later.

In diabetics, exenatide is similar to the incretin hormone GLP-1, and like the natural hormone, exenatide causes the pancreas to secrete insulin. It also:

  • prevents the liver from making too much sugar,
  • lowers appetite, and
  • reduces liver fat.

Since Type 2 diabetes is an inflammatory disease, could exenatide’s anti-inflammatory effect be another mechanism by which it helps to control Type 2 diabetes? Time and more research will tell.

Exenatide is injected just under the skin of the arms, thighs, or abdomen, within 60 minutes of breakfast and dinner. It is prescribed for Type 2 diabetics who have found diet, exercise and metformin or other oral anti-diabetic medication, is not enough.

The experience of one person is not as telling as a large-scale study, but for anyone with both Type 2 diabetes and psoriasis, exenatide (Byetta) might be something to consider to help both conditions.