Background: Metformin is used in the treatment of Diabetes Mellitus type II and improves liver function in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Metformin activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), the cellular energy sensor that is sensitive to changes in the AMP/ATP-ratio. AMPK is an inhibitor of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Both AMPK and mTOR are able to modulate cell death.
Aim: To evaluate the effects of metformin on hepatocyte cell death.
Methods: Apoptotic cell death was induced in primary rat hepatocytes using either the bile acid glycochenodeoxycholic acid (GCDCA) or TNF alpha in combination with actinomycin D (actD). AMPK, mTOR and phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K)/Akt were inhibited using pharmacological inhibitors. Apoptosis and necrosis were quantified by caspase activation, acridine orange staining and Sytox green staining respectively.
Results: Metformin dose-dependently reduces GCDCA-induced apoptosis, even when added 2 hours after GCDCA, without increasing necrotic cell death. Metformin does not protect against TNF alpha/ActD-induced apoptosis. The protective effect of metformin is dependent on an intact PI3-kinase/Akt pathway, but does not require AMPK/mTOR-signaling. Metformin does not inhibit NF-kappa B activation.
Conclusion: Metformin protects against bile acid-induced apoptosis and could be considered in the treatment of chronic liver diseases accompanied by inflammation.
- KAPPA-B ACTIVATION
- FATTY LIVER-DISEASE
- NONALCOHOLIC STEATOHEPATITIS
- KINASE ACTIVATION
- SIGNALING PATHWAY
- MAMMALIAN TARGET
- DEATH RECEPTORS