Oncology letters

Regulation of insulin-like growth factor signaling by metformin in endometrial cancer cells.

PMID 25289085


Obesity, diabetes and insulin resistance are marked risk factors that promote the development of type I endometrial cancer. Previous studies have demonstrated that insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and IGF-2 promote cell proliferation in endometrial cancer cells, while metformin reverses this effect and inhibits cell proliferation. However, the effects of metformin on the regulation of the IGF signaling pathway are unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the regulation of IGF signaling by metformin in endometrial cancer cells, and to determine the effects of metformin combined with IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) inhibitor on cell proliferation and apoptosis. Cell proliferation was assessed following exposure of Ishikawa and HEC-1B endometrial cancer cell lines to metformin and/or the IGF-1R inhibitor, PPP. Apoptosis was assessed by TdT-mediated dUTP nick end labeling assay. Metformin was observed to downregulate IGF-1R and upregulate IGF binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1) mRNA and protein expression, while compound C, an adenosine monophosphate protein kinase inhibitor, reversed this effect. Metformin administered with PPP inhibited endometrial cancer cell proliferation to a greater degree than treatment with either agent alone. At high concentrations (1 or 2 mM), metformin induced apoptosis in endometrial cancer cells. Metformin combined with IGF-1R axis inhibitors may act synergistically to kill tumor cells, as metformin was shown to delay and prevent IGF-1R feedback. In conclusion, this study supported the results of animal studies and subclinical studies, demonstrating the feasibility of metformin combined with IGF-1R axis inhibitors in the treatment of endometrial cancer.