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Diabetes. 2008 Feb;57(2):306-14. Epub 2007 Oct 1.

Metformin inhibits hepatic gluconeogenesis through AMP-activated protein kinase-dependent regulation of the orphan nuclear receptor SHP.

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  • 1Hormone Research Center, School of Biological Sciences & Technology, Chonnam National University, Gwangju, 500-757, Republic of Korea.



Metformin is an antidiabetic drug commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes. The aim of the study was to determine whether metformin regulates hepatic gluconeogenesis through the orphan nuclear receptor small heterodimer partner (SHP; NR0B2).


We assessed the regulation of hepatic SHP gene expression by Northern blot analysis with metformin and adenovirus containing a constitutive active form of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) (Ad-AMPK) and evaluated SHP, PEPCK, and G6Pase promoter activities via transient transfection assays in hepatocytes. Knockdown of SHP using siRNA SHP was conducted to characterize the metformin-induced inhibition of hepatic gluconeogenic gene expression in hepatocytes, and metformin-and adenovirus SHP (Ad-SHP)-mediated hepatic glucose production was measured in B6-Lep(ob/ob) mice.


Hepatic SHP gene expression was induced by metformin, 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-beta-d-ribofuranoside (AICAR), and Ad-AMPK. Metformin-induced SHP gene expression was abolished by adenovirus containing the dominant negative form of AMPK (Ad-DN-AMPK), as well as by compound C. Metformin inhibited hepatocyte nuclear factor-4alpha-or FoxA2-mediated promoter activity of PEPCK and G6Pase, and the inhibition was blocked with siRNA SHP. Additionally, SHP knockdown by adenovirus containing siRNA SHP inhibited metformin-mediated repression of cAMP/dexamethasone-induced hepatic gluconeogenic gene expression. Furthermore, oral administration of metformin increased SHP mRNA levels in B6-Lep(ob/ob) mice. Overexpression of SHP by Ad-SHP decreased blood glucose levels and hepatic gluconeogenic gene expression in B6-Lep(ob/ob) mice.


We have concluded that metformin inhibits hepatic gluconeogenesis through AMPK-dependent regulation of SHP.

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