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Exploring the association between weight loss-inducing medications and multiple sclerosis: insights from the FDA adverse event reporting system database.

BACKGROUND: Several studies have demonstrated that early childhood and adolescent obesity are risk factors for multiple sclerosis (MS) susceptibility. Obesity is thought to share inflammatory components with MS through overproduction of pro-inflammatory adipokines (e.g., leptin) and reduction of anti-inflammatory adipokines (e.g, adiponectin). Recently, drug repurposing (i.e. identifying new indications for existing drugs) has garnered significant attention. The US Food and Drug Administration Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) database serves not only as a resource for mining adverse drug reactions and safety signals but also for identifying inverse associations and potential medication repurposing opportunities.

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to explore the association between weight-loss-inducing drugs and MS using real-world reports from the FAERS database.

DESIGN: Secondary analysis of existing data from the FAERS database.

METHODS: We conducted a disproportionality analysis using the FAERS database between the fourth quarter of 2003 and the second quarter of 2023 to explore associations between MS and weight loss-inducing drugs. Disproportionality was quantified using the reporting odds ratio (ROR). An inverse association was defined when the upper limit of the 95% confidence interval for ROR was <1.

RESULTS: We found an inverse association between MS and anti-diabetic weight loss-inducing drugs including semaglutide (ROR: 0.238; 95% CI: 0.132-0.429), dulaglutide (ROR: 0.165; 95% CI: 0.109-0.248), liraglutide (ROR: 0.161; 95% CI: 0.091-0.284), empagliflozin (ROR: 0.234; 95% CI: 0.146-0.377), and metformin (ROR: 0.387; 95% CI: 0.340-0.440). No inverse associations were found for other weight loss-inducing drugs such as phentermine, bupropion, topiramate, zonisamide, and amphetamine. An exception was naltrexone (ROR: 0.556; 95% CI: 0.384-0.806).

CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest a potential consideration for repurposing anti-diabetic weight loss-inducing drugs including semaglutide, dulaglutide, and liraglutide (glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists), empagliflozin (sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitor), and metformin (biguanide), for MS. This warrants validation through rigorous methodologies and prospective studies.

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