Metformin as a biguanid drug entered to the market 50 years ago and now is generally recommended as the first-line treatment in type 2 diabetes, especially in overweight patients, however in recent years new indications for its use have emerged . It improves peripheral and liver sensitivity to insulin, reduces basal hepatic glucose production, increases insulin-stimulated uptake and utilization of glucose by peripheral tissues, decreases hunger and causes weight reduction.Recently, much attention has been made toward the possible kidney protective efficacy of metformin. Recent studies have proven that metformin, possesses antioxidant properties, too.
Metformin as a biguanid drug entered to the market 50 years ago and now is generally recommended as the first-line treatment in type 2 diabetes, especially in overweight patients, however in recent years new indications for its use have emerged [1–3]. It improves peripheral and liver sensitivity to insulin, reduces basal hepatic glucose production, increases insulin-stimulated uptake and utilization of glucose by peripheral tissues, decreases hunger and causes weight reduction [1, 3, 4]. Recently, much attention has been made toward the possible kidney protective efficacy of metformin. Recent studies have proven that metformin, possesses antioxidant properties, too [1, 5]. Reduction of apoptosis, induced by oxidative stress, in endothelial cells and prevention of vascular dysfunction was found with metformin treatment [1, 5, 6]. Previously Morales et al. showed that gentamicin-induced renal tubular damage is attenuated by metformin . To better evaluate the ameliorative effect of metformin against gentamicin tubular toxicity, we conducted a study on male Wistar rats . In this study, we found, the preventive property of metformin on gentamicin-induced acute kidney injury. Hence, it might be beneficial in patients under treatment with this drug . Recently, Taheri et al., found, the ameliorative property of metformin against unilateral ischemia–reperfusion induced injury in rats , which is in accord with our findings. More recently, to test the efficacy of co-administration of garlic extract and metformin for prevention of gentamicin–renal toxicity in Wistar rats, we conducted another study on 70 male rats . The result of this study indicates that metformin and garlic or their combination has both curative and protective effects against gentamicin nephrotoxicity. Hence, garlic extract could safely be used together with metformin to increase the antioxidant potency to ameliorate gentamicin-tubular toxicity . The well-known enzyme, AMP-activated kinase (AMPK), is associated with the pleiotropic actions of metformin . This enzyme regulates cellular and organ metabolism [5, 6, 11]. AMPK is a phylogenetically conserved serine/threonine protein kinase imagined as a fuel gauge monitoring systemic and cellular energy condition [5, 6, 11] and plays an important role in protecting cellular functions under energy-restricted circumstances [5, 6, 11]. Various data indicates that AMPK activation by metformin is secondary to its effect on the mitochondria as the primary target of this agent [5, 6, 11]. Recent findings have revealed the mitochondrial effects of metformin [5, 6, 11, 12]. Indeed, there is evidence that, when it is used alone, the advantageous effect of metformin may be due to its mild inhibition of the mitochondrial respiratory chain [5, 6, 11, 12]. It is also evident that metformin treatment, significantly attenuates the increase in malondialdehyde and total reactive oxygen species generation and restores the decrease in both enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants , thus, poses the ameliorative effects against toxic effects to the renal tubules [6, 11–14], as we observed in the mentioned studies. However, the main question is, whether these experimental findings are applicable in clinical studies. We are mostly unanimous to use metformin as a first-line glucose-lowering agent [14–19]. However, it cannot be given to a proportion of patients with type 2 diabetes due to various contraindications that could lead to an increased risk of lactic acidosis [1, 2, 16, 17]. Scientists emphasize that it must be used with caution in estimated glomerular filtration rates of below 60 mL/minute and discontinued when estimated glomerular filtration rate is less than 30 mL/minute [1, 2, 16, 17]. Metformin-associated lactic acidosis is a severe metabolic disorder with high mortality and in severe cases patients may need renal replacement therapy . However, risk of metformin-associated lactic acidosis could be decreased by avoiding metformin use in patients with high risk of sepsis, renal impairment, hypovolemia, reduced kidney capacity such as old age patients . Nevertheless, in these conditions, metformin may indeed act as an 'innocent bystander' [1, 2, 16, 17, 19]. A recent review by Papanas et al. remarking on the relationship between metformin and cardiac insufficiency revealed that metformin might even reduce the risk of cardiac failure morbidity and mortality in diabetics . To find the advantage of adjunct metformin and insulin therapy in the management of glycemia in critically ill patients, Mojtahedzadeh et al. studied thirty three traumatized adult patients who were admitted to the hospital. Patients were randomly assigned to receive one of three protocols including intensive insulin monotherapy (A), metformin monotherapy (B), and intensive insulin therapy in combination with metformin (C) to maintain blood glucose level between 80–120 mg/dl. They found that metformin was able to reduce insulin requirements in glycemic management of critically ill patients independent of its plasma concentration. They concluded that metformin was effective to reverse insulin resistance without induction of lactic acidosis . On the other hand, it is possible that the use of metformin would be favorable in many with chronic renal failure according to the advantages linked with lessening of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular protection. The actuality of severe metformin-induced lactic acidosis in the absence of chronic kidney failure raises the question of limitation of its use in these patients [16, 20]. Diabetic nephropathy is one of the most important complications of diabetes mellitus [22–26] and metformin has been widely used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes [17–19]. Kim et al. conducted a study using metformin for spontaneously diabetic rats for 17 weeks. They found that treatment of diabetic rats with metformin restored podocyte loss. They suggested that diabetes-induced podocyte loss in diabetic nephropathy could be suppressed by metformin, through the repression of oxidative injury . Thus according to our results and those published by previous investigators, metformin protects against tubular injury by restoring the biochemical alterations and modulation of oxidative stress on the tubules. Furthermore, according to the study of Kim et al., metformin protects podocytes in diabetic nephropathy. While in diabetic nephropathy, there is also tubular cell injury [28–31] due to glycosuria. These findings can more potentiate the clinical use of metformin in the prevention of diabetic nephropathy [32–36]. In this regard, to understand the metformin kidney protective properties better, more experimental rat model or clinical studies are suggested.
Cicero AF, Tartagni E, Ertek S: Metformin and its clinical use: new insights for an old drug in clinical practice. Arch Med Sci. 2012 Nov 9, 8 (5): 907-917.
Sankhyan A, Pawar PK: Metformin loaded non-ionic surfactant vesicles: optimization of formulation, effect of process variables and characterization. Daru. 2013 Jan 11, 21 (1): 7-10.1186/2008-2231-21-7.
Baradaran A: Commentary on: effect of vitamin D on insulin resistance and anthropometric parameters in type 2 diabetes; a randomized double-blind clinical trial. Daru. 2013 Mar 8, 21 (1): 19-10.1186/2008-2231-21-19.
Heshmat R, Tabatabaei-Malazy O, Abbaszadeh-Ahranjani S, Shahbazi S, Khooshehchin G, Bandarian F: Effect of vitamin D on insulin resistance and anthropometric parameters in Type 2 diabetes; a randomized double-blind clinical trial. Daru. 2012 Aug 28, 20 (1): 10-10.1186/2008-2231-20-10.
Detaille D, Guigas B, Chauvin C, Batandier C, Fontaine E, Wiernsperger N: Metformin prevents high-glucose-induced endothelial cell death through a mitochondrial permeability transition-dependent process. Diabetes. 2005, 54 (7): 2179-2187. 10.2337/diabetes.54.7.2179.
Rosen P, Wiernsperger NF: Metformin delays the manifestation of diabetes and vascular dysfunction in Goto-Kakizaki rats by reduction of mitochondrial oxidative stress. Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2006, 22 (4): 323-330. 10.1002/dmrr.623.
Morales AI, Detaille D, Prieto M, Puente A, Briones E, Arevalo M: Metformin prevents experimental gentamicin-induced nephropathy by a mitochondria-dependent pathway. Kidney Int. 2010, 77 (10): 861-869. 10.1038/ki.2010.11.
Amini FG, Rafieian-Kopaei M, Nematbakhsh M, Baradaran A, Nasri H: Ameliorative effects of metformin on renal histologic and biochemical alterations of gentamicin-induced renal toxicity in Wistar rats. J Res Med Sci. 2012, 17: 621-625.
Taheri N, Azarmi Y, Neshat M, Garjani A, Doustar Y: Study the effects of metformin on renal function and structure after unilateral ischemia-reperfusion in rat. Res Pharm Sci. 2012, 7 (5):
Rafieian-Kopaei M, Baradaran A, Merrikhi A, Nematbakhsh M, Madihi Y, Nasri H: Efficacy of Co-administration of Garlic Extract and Metformin for Prevention of Gentamicin-Renal Toxicity in Wistar Rats: A Biochemical Study. Int J Prev Med. 2013, 4 (3): 258-264.
Sung JY, Choi HC: Metformin-induced AMP-activated protein kinase activation regulates phenylephrine-mediated contraction of rat aorta. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2012, 421 (3): 599-604. 10.1016/j.bbrc.2012.04.052.
Zorov DB: Amelioration of aminoglycoside nephrotoxicity requires protection of renal mitochondria. Kidney Int. 2010, 77 (10): 841-843. 10.1038/ki.2010.20.
Nematbakhsh M, Ashrafi F, Pezeshki Z, Fatahi Z, Kianpoor F, Sanei MH: A histopathological study of nephrotoxicity, hepatoxicity or testicular toxicity: Which one is the first observation as side effect of Cisplatin-induced toxicity in animal model. J Nephropathology. 2012, 1 (3): 190-193. 10.5812/nephropathol.8122.
Ghamarian A, Abdollahi M, Su X, Amiri A, Ahadi A, Nowrouzi A: Effect of chicory seed extract on glucose tolerance test (GTT) and metabolic profile in early and late stage diabetic rats. Daru. 2012 Oct 15, 20 (1): 56-10.1186/2008-2231-20-56.
Rahimi Z: ACE insertion/deletion (I/D) polymorphism and diabetic nephropathy. J Nephropathology. 2012, 1 (3): 143-151. 10.5812/nephropathol.8109.
Rocha A, Almeida M, Santos J, Carvalho A: Metformin in patients with chronic kidney disease: strengths and weaknesses. J Nephrol. 2013, 26 (1): 55-60. 10.5301/jn.5000166.
Nye HJ, Herrington WG: Metformin: the safest hypoglycaemic agent in chronic kidney disease?. Nephron Clin Pract. 2011, 118 (4): c380-c383. 10.1159/000323739.
Baradaran A: Lipoprotein (a), type 2 diabetes and nephropathy; the mystery continues. J Nephropathology. 2012, 1 (3): 126-129. 10.5812/nephropathol.8107.
Mudagal M, Patel J, Nagalakshmi N, Asif AM: Renoprotective effects of combining ACE inhibitors and statins in experimental diabetic rats. Daru. 2011, 19 (5): 322-325.
Papanas N, Maltezos E, Mikhailidis DP: Metformin and heart failure: never say never again. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2012, 13: 1-8.
Mojtahedzadeh M, Rouini MR, Kajbaf F, Najafi A, Ansari G, Gholipour A: Advantage of adjunct metformin and insulin therapy in the management of glycemia in critically ill patients. Evidence for nonoccurrence of lactic acidosis and needing to parenteral metformin. Arch Med Sci. 2008, 4 (2): 174-181.
Tolouian R, Hernandez GT: Prediction of Diabetic Nephropathy: The need for a sweet biomarker. J Nephropathology. 2013, 2 (1): 4-5. 10.5812/nephropathol.8966.
Kari J: Epidemiology of chronic kidney disease in children. J Nephropathology. 2012, 1 (3): 162-163. 10.5812/nephropathol.8113.
Appel G: Detecting and controlling diabetic nephropathy: What do we know?. Cleve Clin J Med. 2013, 80 (4): 209-217. 10.3949/ccjm.80gr.12006.
Tavafi M: Diabetic nephropathy and antioxidants. J Nephropathology. 2013, 2 (1): 20-27. 10.5812/nephropathol.9093.
Gheissari A, Hemmatzadeh S, Merrikhi A, Fadaei-Tehrani S, Madihi Y: Chronic kidney disease in children: A report from a tertiary care center over 11 years. J Nephropathology. 2012, 1 (3): 177-182. 10.5812/nephropathol.8119.
Kim J, Shon E, Kim CS, Kim JS: Renal podocyte injury in a rat model of type 2 diabetes is prevented by metformin. Exp Diabetes Res. 2012, 2012: 210821-
Solati M, Mahboobi HR: Paraoxonase enzyme activity and dyslipidemia in chronic kidney disease patients. J Nephropathology. 2012, 1 (3): 123-125. 10.5812/nephropathol.8106.
Kam-Tao Li PK, Burdmann EA, Mehta RL: Acute kidney injury: global health alert. J Nephropathology. 2013, 2 (2): 90-97.
Alhamad T, Blandon J, Meza AT, Bilbao JE, Hernandez GT: Acute kidney injury with oxalate deposition in a patient with a high anion gap metabolic acidosis and a normal osmolal gap. J Nephropathology. 2013, 2 (2): 139-143.
Gobe GC, Morais C, Vesey DA, Johnson DW: Use of high-dose erythropoietin for repair after injury: A comparison of outcomes in heart and kidney. J Nephropathology. 2013, 2 (3): 154-165.
Behradmanesh S, Nasri H: Association of serum calcium with level of blood pressure in type 2 diabetic patients. J Nephropathology. 2013, 2 (4): 254-257.
Khajehdehi P: Turmeric: Reemerging of a neglected Asian traditional remedy. J Nephropathology. 2012, 1 (1): 17-22.
Sahni N, Gupta KL: Dietary antioxidants and oxidative stress in predialysis chronic kidney patients. J Nephropathology. 2012, 1 (3): 134-142. 10.5812/nephropathol.8108.
Sun YM, Su Y, Li J, Wang LF: Recent advances in understanding the biochemical and molecular mechanism of diabetic nephropathy. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2013, 10.1016/j.bbrc.2013.02.120.
Roshan B, Stanton RC: A story of microalbuminuria and diabetic nephropathy. J Nephropathology. 2013, 2 (4): 234-240.
The author declared no competing interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Nasri, R.H. Renoprotective effects of metformin. DARU J Pharm Sci 21, 36 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1186/2008-2231-21-36
- Diabetic Nephropathy
- Lactic Acidosis
- Metformin Treatment
- Garlic Extract