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Eur J Pharmacol. 2010 Jun 10;635(1-3):231-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2010.02.051. Epub 2010 Mar 20.

Effect of the anti-diabetic drug metformin on bone mass in ovariectomized rats.

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State Key Laboratory of Oral Diseases, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China.


Recent studies have reported bone loss in the patients with diabetes and a direct osteogenic effect of metformin on osteoblast-like cells in culture. In this study, we investigated the action of metformin on bone mass in ovariectomized (OVX) rats. Three months after either a sham surgery or bilateral ovariectomy, thirty-two female Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned into four groups: (1) Sham group; (2) OVX group; (3) OVX+metformin (50mg/kg/day) group; and (4) OVX+metformin (100mg/kg/day) group. After 2 months of oral administration with or without metformin, tibiae were harvested for dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and histology analysis, while the bone marrow cells from tibiae were collected for measurement of the mRNAs expressions for three osteoblast genes and estrogen receptors alpha by the use of real-time RT-PCR. We found that the impaired bone density and quality induced by bilateral ovariectomy were significantly improved by the treatment of metformin (both 50 and 100mg/kg/day), and this action could be partly mediated by regulating bone marrow cells development through induction of mechanisms regulating osteoblast markers core binding factor a1 and LDL receptor-related protein 5. These findings provide new evidence that the anti-diabetic drug metformin has a direct inhibition effect on bone loss in OVX rats, in addition to its well-documented osteogenic potency in vitro.

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