Published: 01-03-2024 11:04 | Updated: 01-03-2024 11:04

Common anti-diabetic drugs can improve the outcome after stroke

Stroke patient in hospital bed.
Photo: Getty Images

People with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of stroke and a worsened outcome after suffering from it. Now, researchers at the Karolinska Institutet have shown that stroke outcome is significantly improved in mice with obesity and type 2 diabetes who have been treated with the commonly used diabetic drugs SGLT-2 inhibitors. The results are published in the scientific journal Cardiovascular Diabetology and may have clinical relevance for stroke rehabilitation in type 2 diabetes.

The number of people with diabetes in the world is expected to rise dramatically to 700 million in 2045. Stroke is one of the major complications in people with diabetes who also have a worsened prognosis in the rehabilitation phase. Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors are a class of oral medications that lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes. These treatments have also been shown to reduce cardiovascular risk but if they improve the outcome after stroke is unknown.

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet show that if SGLT-2 inhibitors are given after stroke in diabetic mice, their functional recovery is greatly improved. 

Ellen Vercalsteren, Postdoctoral Researcher
Ellen Vercalsteren, Postdoctoral Researcher

–This suggests that diabetic people suffering from stroke could improve their negative prognosis if treated with SGLT-2 inhibitors, says Ellen Vercalsteren, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset, Karolinska Institutet (KI SÖS) and first author of the study.

The researchers now plan to go ahead and study the potential association between different diabetic treatments and stroke outcome in clinical registry studies.

The study has been conceived by Vladimer Darsalia and Cesare Patrone at The NeuroCardioMetabol Group, Department of Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset and is the result of a collaborative effort with the Translational Neurology Group, Department of Clinical Science, Wallenberg Neuroscience Center at Lund University, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG and the Internal Medicine Unit at Södersjukhuset.

Funders of the study were Hjärnfonden, Ulla Hamberg Angeby och Lennart Angebys Stiftelse, the Swedish Research Council, STROKE-Riksförbundet, ALF and the Swedish Heart-Lung foundation.


The SGLT2 inhibitor Empagliflozin promotes post-stroke functional recovery in diabetic mice, Ellen Vercalsteren, Dimitra Karampatsi, Carolina Buizza, Thomas Nyström, Thomas Klein, Gesine Paul, Cesare Patrone & Vladimer Darsalia, Cardiovascular Diabetology, online 29 Feb 2024, doi: 10.1186/s12933-024-02174-6