AMP-activated protein kinase is activated in adipose tissue of individuals with type 2 diabetes treated with metformin: a randomised glycaemia-controlled crossover study

J.G. Boyle, P.J. Logan, G.C. Jones, M. Small, N. Sattar, J. M. C. Connell, S.J. Cleland, I.P. Salt

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    Aims/hypothesis: The hypoglycaemic actions of metformin have been proposed to be mediated by hepatic AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). As the effects of metformin and the role of AMPK in adipose tissue remain poorly characterised, we examined the effect of metformin on AMPK activity in adipose tissue of individuals with type 2 diabetes in a randomised glycaemia-controlled crossover study. Methods: Twenty men with type 2 diabetes (aged 50-70 years) treated with diet, metformin or sulfonylurea alone were recruited from North Glasgow University National Health Service Trusts' diabetes clinics and randomised to either metformin or gliclazide for 10 weeks. Randomisation codes, generated by computer, were put into sealed envelopes and stored by the hospital pharmacist. Medication bottles were numbered, and allocation was done in sequence. The participants and investigators were blinded to group assignment. At the end of each phase of therapy adipose biopsy, AMPK activity (primary endpoint) and levels of lipid metabolism and signalling proteins were assessed. In parallel, the effect of metformin on AMPK and insulin-signalling pathways was investigated in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Results: Ten participants were initially randomised to metformin and subsequently crossed over to gliclazide, while ten participants were initially randomised to gliclazide and subsequently crossed over to metformin. No participants discontinued the intervention and the adipose tissue AMPK activity was analysed in all 20 participants. There were no adverse events or side effects in the study group. Adipose AMPK activity was increased following metformin compared with gliclazide therapy (0.057 ± 0.007 vs 0.030 ± 0.005 [mean ± SEM] nmol min-1 [mg lysate] -1; p < 0.005), independent of AMPK level, glycaemia or plasma adiponectin concentrations. The increase was associated with reduced levels of acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) protein and increased ACC Ser80 phosphorylation. In 3T3-L1 adipocytes, metformin reduced levels of ACC protein and stimulated phosphorylation of AMPK Thr172 and hormone-sensitive lipase Ser565. Conclusions: These results provide the first evidence that metformin activates AMPK and reduces ACC protein levels in human adipose tissue in vivo. Future studies are required to assess the role of adipose AMPK activation in the pharmacological effects of metformin. Trial registration: ISRCTN51336867 Funding: This work was supported by grants from the British Heart Foundation, TENOVUS-Scotland, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Diabetes UK. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)1799-1809
    Number of pages11
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Adipose
    • AMP-activated protein kinase
    • Biguanide
    • Diabetes
    • Glucose transport
    • Insulin
    • Metformin
    • acetyl coenzyme A carboxylase
    • adiponectin
    • gliclazide
    • glucose
    • hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase kinase
    • insulin
    • metformin
    • placebo
    • serine
    • sulfonylurea
    • threonine
    • triacylglycerol lipase
    • absence of side effects
    • adipocyte
    • adipose tissue
    • adult
    • aged
    • animal cell
    • article
    • clinical article
    • controlled study
    • crossover procedure
    • diabetic diet
    • double blind procedure
    • drug mechanism
    • enzyme activation
    • enzyme activity
    • enzyme phosphorylation
    • glucose blood level
    • human
    • human cell
    • human tissue
    • lipid metabolism
    • male
    • monotherapy
    • mouse
    • non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
    • nonhuman
    • priority journal
    • protein blood level
    • randomized controlled trial
    • treatment duration
    • Aged
    • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases
    • Cross-Over Studies
    • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
    • Gliclazide
    • Humans
    • Hypoglycemic Agents
    • Male
    • Middle Aged

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