, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 385–389 | Cite as

Metformin enhances certain insulin actions in cultured rat hepatoma cells

  • F. Purrello
  • D. Gullo
  • M. Buscema
  • V. Pezzino
  • R. Vigner
  • I. D. Goldfine


The effect of the oral antidiabetic agent metformin on insulin regulation of glycogen metabolism, tyrosine-aminotransferase activity, and [1-14C]aminoisobutyric acid uptake was studied in H4IIE cultured rat hepatoma cells. Metformin enhanced both basal (from 0.213±0.016 to 0.262±0.024 nmol/mg protein,p<0.01) and insulin stimulated [3H] glucose incorporation into glycogen in a time-dependent and dose-dependent manner. A small effect of metformin was seen at 1 μmol/l, and its greatest effects were obtained at 10 μmol/l. At the same concentrations, metformin did not influence basal tyrosine-aminotransferase activity but it potentiated insulin stimulated tyrosine-aminotransferase activity (+ 29.2±1.4%,p<0.01) and prevented the loss of tyrosine-aminotransferase responsiveness to insulin in H4IIE cells desensitised by a previous exposure to insulin. In contrast, metformin had no effect on basal or insulin-stimulated [1-14C]aminoisobutyric acid uptake. Over the concentrations of metformin that enhanced insulin action in H4IIE cells, the drug had no significant effect on insulin binding to its receptor. These studies suggest, therefore, that metformin may influence cellular metabolism by potentiating certain insulin actions through mechanisms that may be beyond insulin receptor binding.

Key words

Metformin insulin action hepatoma cells 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Purrello
    • 1
  • D. Gullo
    • 1
  • M. Buscema
    • 1
  • V. Pezzino
    • 1
  • R. Vigner
    • 1
  • I. D. Goldfine
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Cattedra di Endocrinologia e Patologia CostituzionaleUniversity of CataniaCataniaItaly
  2. 2.Cell Biology LaboratoryMount Zion HospitalUSA
  3. 3.Departments of Medicine and PhysiologyUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

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