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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2006 Mar;316(3):1053-61. Epub 2005 Dec 1.

Metformin prevents endotoxin-induced liver injury after partial hepatectomy.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville Health Sciences Center, Louisville, KY 40292, USA.


Metformin [2-(N,N-dimethylcarbamimidoyl)guanidine] is a drug used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Recent studies have suggested that metformin may have effects in addition to lowering serum glucose concentrations (e.g., anti-inflammatory). The aim of the present study was to determine whether metformin prevents the inflammatory reaction and liver damage in a model of postsurgical sepsis. Accordingly, rats underwent 2/3 partial hepatectomy (PH; or sham surgery); 48 h after surgery, animals were administered endotoxin (LPS; 1.5 mg/kg i.v.). Both PH and LPS alone caused some minor liver damage. However, their combined effect (PH/LPS) was synergistic, leading to robust hepatic damage, as indicated by plasma enzymes and histological assessment. Although metformin treatment did not alter changes caused by PH alone, it almost completely blunted the effects of LPS in the PH/LPS group. Increases in biomarkers of inflammation (e.g., interleukin 6, interferon gamma, and neutrophil number) were also blunted by metformin treatment. Furthermore, PH/LPS caused a >200x increase in hepatic plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) mRNA expression and plasma PAI-1 protein. These increases were associated with inhibition of hepatic urokinase plasminogen activator activity and an increase in fibrin deposition, indicative of local thrombosis. These effects were markedly reduced by metformin treatment. In conclusion, these data demonstrate that metformin prevents liver damage in a model of postsurgical sepsis in rats by decreasing proinflammatory and hemostatic responses.

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