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Toxicological sciences : an official journal of the Society of Toxicology

Editor's Highlight: Metformin Protects Against Acetaminophen Hepatotoxicity by Attenuation of Mitochondrial Oxidant Stress and Dysfunction.


PMID 27562556

Abstract

Overdose of acetaminophen (APAP) causes severe liver injury and even acute liver failure in both mice and human. A recent study by Kim et al. (2015, Metformin ameliorates acetaminophen hepatotoxicity via Gadd45β-dependent regulation of JNK signaling in mice. J. Hepatol. 63, 75-82) showed that metformin, a first-line drug to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus, protected against APAP hepatotoxicity in mice. However, its exact protective mechanism has not been well clarified. To investigate this, C57BL/6J mice were treated with 400 mg/kg APAP and 350 mg/kg metformin was given 0.5 h pre- or 2 h post-APAP. Our data showed that pretreatment with metformin protected against APAP hepatotoxicity, as indicated by the over 80% reduction in plasma alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activities and significant decrease in centrilobular necrosis. Metabolic activation of APAP, as indicated by glutathione depletion and APAP-protein adducts formation, was also slightly inhibited. However, 2 h post-treatment with metformin still reduced liver injury by 50%, without inhibition of adduct formation. Interestingly, neither pre- nor post-treatment of metformin inhibited c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation or its mitochondrial translocation. In contrast, APAP-induced mitochondrial oxidant stress and dysfunction were greatly attenuated in these mice. In addition, mice with 2 h post-treatment with metformin also showed significant inhibition of complex I activity, which may contribute to the decreased mitochondrial oxidant stress. Furthermore, the protection was reproduced in JNK activation-absent HepaRG cells treated with 20 mM APAP followed by 0.5 or 1 mM metformin 6 h later, confirming JNK-independent protection mechanisms. Thus, metformin protects against APAP hepatotoxicity by attenuating the mitochondrial oxidant stress and subsequent mitochondrial dysfunction, and may be a potential therapeutic option for APAP overdose patients.

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