Metformin suppresses retinal angiogenesis and inflammation in vitro and in vivo.

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PLoS One


The oral anti-diabetic drug metformin has been found to reduce cardiovascular complications independent of glycemic control in diabetic patients. However, its role in diabetic retinal microvascular complications is not clear. This study is to investigate the effects of metformin on retinal vascular endothelium and its possible mechanisms, regarding two major pathogenic features of diabetic retinopathy: angiogenesis and inflammation. In human retinal vascular endothelial cell culture, metformin inhibited various steps of angiogenesis including endothelial cell proliferation, migration, and tube formation in a dose-dependent manner. Its anti-angiogenic activity was confirmed in vivo that metformin significantly reduced spontaneous intraretinal neovascularization in a very-low-density lipoprotein receptor knockout mutant mouse (p<0.05). Several inflammatory molecules upregulated by tumor necrosis factor-α in human retinal vascular endothelial cells were markedly reduced by metformin, including nuclear factor kappa B p65 (NFκB p65), intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1), and interleukin-8 (IL-8). Further, metformin significantly decreased retinal leukocyte adhesion (p<0.05) in streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice. Activation of AMP-activated protein kinase was found to play a partial role in the suppression of ICAM-1 and MCP-1 by metformin, but not in those of NFκB p65 and IL-8. Our findings support the notion that metformin has considerable anti-angiogenic and anti-inflammatory effects on retinal vasculature. Metformin could be potentially used for the purpose of treating diabetic retinopathy in addition to blood glucose control in diabetic patients.

Medical Subject Headings

Animals; Apoptosis; Cell Movement; Cell Proliferation; Cells, Cultured; Endothelial Cells; Humans; Hypoglycemic Agents; Inflammation; Inflammation Mediators; Metformin; Mice, Inbred C57BL; Mice, Knockout; Neovascularization, Pathologic; Receptors, LDL; Retina

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