Metformin reduces the Walker-256 tumor development in obese-MSG rats via AMPK and FOXO3a

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Abstract

Aims

Studies have associated obesity with a wide variety of cancers. Metformin, an anti-diabetic drug, has recently received attention as a potentially useful therapeutic agent for treating cancer. Therefore, the objective of this study was to analyze the mechanisms involved in the increase in tumor development and the reduction of it by metformin in obesity using an experimental breast tumor model.

Material and methods

Newborn male Wistar rats were subcutaneously injected with 400 mg/kg monosodium glutamate (MSG) (obese) or saline (control) at 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 days of age. After 16 weeks, 1 × 107 Walker-256 tumor cells were subcutaneously injected in the right flank of the rats and concomitantly the treatment with metformin 300 mg/kg/15 days, via gavage, started. The rats were divided into 4 groups: control tumor (CT), control tumor metformin (CTM), obese-MSG tumor (OT) and obese-MSG tumor metformin (OTM). On the 18th week the tumor development and metformin effect were analyzed.

Key findings

Tumor development was higher in OT rats compared with CT rats. Activation of insulin–IR-ERK1/2 pathway and an anti-apoptotic effect might be the mechanisms involved in the higher development of tumor in obesity. The effect of metformin reducing the tumor development in obese rats might involve increased mRNA expression of pRb and p27, increased activity of AMPK and FOXO3a and decreased expression of p-ERK1/2 (Thr202/Tyr204) in Walker-256 tumor.

Significance

Our data allow us to suggest that metformin, reducing the stimulatory effect of obesity on tumor development, has a potential role in the management of cancers.

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