Metformin in cancer: translational challenges.
ABSTRACT The anti-diabetic drug metformin is rapidly emerging as a potential anti-cancer agent. Metformin, effective in treating type 2 diabetes and the insulin resistance syndromes, improves insulin resistance by reducing hepatic gluconeogenesis and by enhancing glucose uptake by skeletal muscle. Epidemiological studies have consistently associated metformin use with decreased cancer incidence and cancer-related mortality. Furthermore, numerous preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated anti-cancer effects of metformin, leading to an explosion of interest in evaluating this agent in human cancer. The effects of metformin on circulating insulin levels indicate a potential efficacy towards cancers associated with hyperinsulinaemia; however, metformin may also directly inhibit tumour growth. In this review, we describe the mechanism of action of metformin and summarise the epidemiological, clinical and preclinical evidence supporting a role for metformin in the treatment of cancer. In addition, the challenges associated with translating preclinical results into therapeutic benefit in the clinical setting will be discussed.
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ABSTRACT: The cancer stem cell hypothesis suggests that, unlike most cancer cells within a tumor, cancer stem cells resist chemotherapeutic drugs and can regenerate the various cell types in the tumor, thereby causing relapse of the disease. Thus, drugs that selectively target cancer stem cells offer great promise for cancer treatment, particularly in combination with chemotherapy. Here, we show that low doses of metformin, a standard drug for diabetes, inhibits cellular transformation and selectively kills cancer stem cells in four genetically different types of breast cancer. The combination of metformin and a well-defined chemotherapeutic agent, doxorubicin, kills both cancer stem cells and non-stem cancer cells in culture. Furthermore, this combinatorial therapy reduces tumor mass and prevents relapse much more effectively than either drug alone in a xenograft mouse model. Mice seem to remain tumor-free for at least 2 months after combinatorial therapy with metformin and doxorubicin is ended. These results provide further evidence supporting the cancer stem cell hypothesis, and they provide a rationale and experimental basis for using the combination of metformin and chemotherapeutic drugs to improve treatment of patients with breast (and possibly other) cancers.Cancer Research 09/2009; 69(19):7507-11. · 8.65 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Excess body-mass index (BMI) has been associated with adverse outcomes in prostate cancer, and hyperinsulinaemia is a candidate mediator, but prospective data are sparse. We assessed the effect of prediagnostic BMI and plasma C-peptide concentration (reflecting insulin secretion) on prostate cancer-specific mortality after diagnosis. This study involved men diagnosed with prostate cancer during the 24 years of follow-up in the Physicians' Health Study. BMI measurements were available at baseline in 1982 and eight years later in 1990 for 2546 men who developed prostate cancer. Baseline C-peptide concentration was available in 827 men. We used Cox proportional hazards regression models controlling for age, smoking, time between BMI measurement and prostate cancer diagnosis, and competing causes of death to assess the risk of prostate cancer-specific mortality according to BMI and C-peptide concentration. Of the 2546 men diagnosed with prostate cancer during the follow-up period, 989 (38.8%) were overweight (BMI 25.0-29.9 kg/m(2)) and 87 (3.4%) were obese (BMI >/=30 kg/m(2)). 281 men (11%) died from prostate cancer during this follow-up period. Compared with men of a healthy weight (BMI <25 kg/m(2)) at baseline, overweight men and obese men had a significantly higher risk of prostate cancer mortality (proportional hazard ratio [HR] 1.47 [95% CI 1.16-1.88] for overweight men and 2.66 [1.62-4.39] for obese men; p(trend)<0.0001). The trend remained significant after controlling for clinical stage and Gleason grade and was stronger for prostate cancer diagnosed during the PSA screening era (1991-2007) compared with during the pre-PSA screening era (1982-1990) or when using BMI measurements obtained in 1990 compared with those obtained in 1982. Of the 827 men with data available for baseline C-peptide concentration, 117 (14%) died from prostate cancer. Men with C-peptide concentrations in the highest quartile (high) versus the lowest quartile (low) had a higher risk of prostate cancer mortality (HR 2.38 [95% CI 1.31-4.30]; p(trend)=0.008). Compared with men with a BMI less than 25 kg/m(2) and low C-peptide concentrations, those with a BMI of 25 kg/m(2) or more and high C-peptide concentrations had a four-times higher risk of mortality (4.12 [1.97-8.61]; p(interaction)=0.001) independent of clinical predictors. Excess bodyweight and a high plasma concentration of C-peptide both predispose men with a subsequent diagnosis of prostate cancer to an increased likelihood of dying of their disease. Patients with both factors have the worst outcome. Further studies are now needed to confirm these findings.The lancet oncology 10/2008; 9(11):1039-47. · 14.47 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Diabetes mellitus has been associated with an increased risk of several types of cancers, but its relationship with breast cancer remains unclear. We conducted a meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies to assess the evidence regarding the association between diabetes and risk of breast cancer. Studies were identified by searching MEDLINE (1966-February 2007) and the references of retrieved articles. We identified 20 studies (5 case-control and 15 cohort studies) that reported relative risk (RR) estimates (odds ratio, rate ratio/hazard ratio, or standardized incidence ratio) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the relation between diabetes (largely Type II diabetes) and breast cancer incidence. Summary RRs were calculated using a random-effects model. Analysis of all 20 studies showed that women with (versus without) diabetes had a statistically significant 20% increased risk of breast cancer (RR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.12-1.28). The summary estimates were similar for case-control studies (RR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.05-1.32) and cohort studies (RR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.11-1.30). Meta-analysis of 5 cohort studies on diabetes and mortality from breast cancer yielded a summary RR of 1.24 (95% CI, 0.95-1.62) for women with (versus without) diabetes. Findings from this meta-analysis indicate that diabetes is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.International Journal of Cancer 08/2007; 121(4):856-62. · 6.20 Impact Factor