, Volume 49, Issue 7, pp 1647-1655
Date: 23 May 2006

Global gene expression analysis in liver of obese diabetic db/db mice treated with metformin

Abstract

Aims/hypothesis

Metformin is widely used as a hypoglycaemic reagent for type 2 diabetes. While the reduction of hepatic gluconeogenesis is thought to be a key effect, the detailed molecular mechanism of action of metformin remains to be elucidated. To gain insight into this, we performed a global gene expression profiling study.

Materials and methods

We performed DNA microarray analysis to study global gene expression in the livers of obese diabetic db/db mice 2 h after a single administration of metformin (400 mg/kg).

Results

This analysis identified 14 genes that showed at least a 1.5-fold difference in expression following metformin treatment, including a reduction of glucose-6-phosphatase gene expression. The mRNA levels of glucose-6-phosphatase showed one of the best correlations with blood glucose levels among 12,000 genes. Enzymatic activity of glucose-6-phosphatase was also reduced in metformin-treated liver. Moreover, intensive analysis of the expression profile revealed that metformin effected significant alterations in gene expression across at least ten metabolic pathways, including those involved in glycolysis-gluconeogenesis, fatty acid metabolism and amino acid metabolism.

Conclusions/interpretation

These results suggest that reduction of glucose-6-phosphatase activity, as well as suppression of mRNA expression levels of this gene, in liver is of prime importance for controlling blood glucose levels in vivo, at least at early time points after metformin treatment. Our results also suggest that metformin not only affects expression of specific genes, but also alters the expression level of multiple genes linked to the metabolic pathways involved in glucose and lipid metabolism in the liver.