Background Metformin use is associated with reduced cancer risk in epidemiological studies and has preclinical anti-cancer activity in ovarian cancer models. The primary objective of this phase I study was to determine the recommended phase II dose (RP2D) of metformin in combination with carboplatin/paclitaxel in patients with ovarian cancer. Secondary objectives were to describe safety and pharmacokinetics. Methods In this single-center trial the RP2D of metformin in combination with carboplatin area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) 6 and paclitaxel 175 mg/m2 every 3 weeks (q3w) in patients with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer was determined using a 3 + 3 escalation rule at three fixed dose levels: 500 mg three times daily (tds), 850 mg tds and 1000 mg tds. Metformin was commenced on day 3 of cycle 1 and continued until 3 weeks after the last chemotherapy administration. The RP2D was defined as the dose level at which 0 of 3 or ≤ 1 of 6 evaluable subjects experienced a metformin-related dose-limiting toxicity (DLT). Safety was assessed according to CTCAE v4.0. Plasma and serum samples for pharmacokinetic (PK) analyses were collected during treatment cycles 1 and 2. Results Fifteen patients with epithelial ovarian cancer and an indication for neo-adjuvant (n = 5) or palliative (n = 10) treatment were included. No DLTs were observed. Three patients discontinued study treatment during cycle 1 for other reasons than DLT. Six patients were treated at the RP2D of metformin 1000 mg tds. The most frequent low-grade toxicities were anemia, hypomagnesemia and diarrhea. Grade 3 adverse events (AEs) occurred in ten patients, most common were leucopenia (n = 4), thrombocytopenia (n = 3) and increased GGT (n = 3). There were no grade 4 AEs. Metformin increased the platinum (Pt) AUC (Δ22%, p = 0.013) and decreased the Pt clearance (Δ-28%, p = 0.013). Metformin plasma levels were all within the therapeutic range for diabetic patients (0.1-4 mg/L). Conclusion The RP2D of metformin in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel in advanced ovarian cancer is 1000 mg tds. This is higher than the RP2D reported for combination with targeted agents. A potential PK interaction of metformin with carboplatin was identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1454-1462
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigational new drugs
Issue number5
Early online date7-Mar-2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Chemotherapy
  • Metformin
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Safety

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