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PeerJ. 2017 Apr 13;5:e3155. doi: 10.7717/peerj.3155. eCollection 2017.

Metformin ameliorates insulitis in STZ-induced diabetic mice.

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Department of Pharmacy, Xiaoshan Hospital, Hangzhou, China.
Department of Pharmacy, Changzheng Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.
Contributed equally



Metformin is currently the most widely used first-line hypoglycemic agent for diabetes mellitus. Besides glucose-lowering action, there is increasingly interest in the potential anti-inflammatory action of this drug. In the present study, we investigated the actions of metformin on experimental insulitis using STZ-induced diabetic mice.


Mice with acute diabetes induced by STZ were administered metformin by gavage. Changes of blood glucose and body weight, and the daily amount of food and water intake were measured. Pancreatic tissues were collected for histologic analyses. Pathological assessment and immunohistochemistry analysis were used to determine the effect of metformin on insulitis. Inflammatory cytokines in the pancreas and insulin levels were measured through ELISA analysis.


Metformin significantly reduced blood glucose levels and improved aberrant water intake behavior in experimental diabetic mice. No significant differences were observed in terms of body weight and food intake behavior in metformin-treated animals. In the STZ-induced model of diabetes, we found the appearance of pronounced insulitis. However, metformin administration reduced the severity of insulitis assessed by blind pathological scoring. In addition, metformin treatment improved insulin levels in experimental diabetic mice. ELISA assay revealed decreased levels of inflammatory response marker IL-1β and TNF-α in the pancreatic tissues following metformin treatment.


Metformin attenuated insulitis in the STZ-induced mice model of diabetes. This islet-protective effect might be partly correlated with the anti-inflammatory action of metformin.


Anti-inflammatory effect; DM; Insulitis; Metformin; Panreatic islets; STZ

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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