Metformin-like antidiabetic, cardio-protective and non-glycemic effects of naringenin: Molecular and pharmacological insights

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Metformin is a widely used drug for the treatment of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Its blood glucose-lowering effects are initially due to inhibition of hepatic glucose production and increased peripheral glucose utilization. Metformin has also been shown to have several beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk factors and it is the only oral antihyperglycaemic agent thus far associated with decreased macrovascular complications in patients with diabetes.

Adenosine Monophosphate Activated-Protein Kinase (AMPK) is a major cellular regulator of lipid and glucose metabolism. Recent evidence shows that pharmacological activation of AMPK improves blood glucose homeostasis, lipid profiles, blood pressure and insulin-resistance making it a novel therapeutic target in the treatment of T2D. Naringenin a flavonoid found in high concentrations as its glycone naringin in citrus fruits, has been reported to have antioxidant, antiatherogenic, anti- dyslipidemic and anti-diabetic effects. It has been shown that naringenin exerts its anti-diabetic effects by inhibition of gluconeogenesis through upregulations of AMPK hence metformin-like effects. Naringin has further been shown to have non-glycemic affects like metformin that mitigate inflammation and cell proliferation. This review evaluates the potential of naringenin as anti-diabetic, anti-dyslipidemic anti-inflammatory and antineoplastic agent similar to metformin and proposes its further development for therapeutic use in clinical practice.

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