Pharmacological reports : PR

Metformin affects macrophages' phenotype and improves the activity of glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, catalase and decreases malondialdehyde concentration in a partially AMPK-independent manner in LPS-stimulated human monocytes/macrophages.

PMID 24905518


Diabetic patients experience accelerated atherosclerosis. Metformin is a cornerstone of the current therapy of type 2 diabetes. Macrophages are the key cells associated with the development of atherosclerotic plaques. Therefore, our aim was to assess the in vitro effects of metformin on macrophages and its influence on the mechanisms involved in the development of atherosclerosis. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were obtained from the group including 16 age-matched healthy non-smoking volunteers aged 18-40 years. Monocytes were further incubated with metformin, LPS and compound C--a pharmacological inhibitor of AMPK. The impact of metformin on oxidative stress markers, antioxidative properties, inflammatory cytokines and phenotypical markers of macrophages was studied. We showed that macrophages treated with metformin expressed less reactive oxygen species (ROS), which resulted from increased antioxidative potential. Furthermore, a reduction in inflammatory cytokines was observed. We also observed a phenotypic shift toward the alternative activation of macrophages that was induced by metformin. All the aforementioned results resulted from AMPK activation, but a residual activity of metformin after AMPK blockade was still noticeable even after inhibition of AMPK by compound C. Authors believe that metformin-based therapy, a cornerstone in diabetes therapy, not only improves the prognosis of diabetics by reducing blood glucose but also by reducing oxidative stress, inflammatory cytokine production and the shift toward alternative activation of macrophages.