Int J Biol Sci 2014; 10(3):268-277. doi:10.7150/ijbs.7929

Research Paper

Metformin Plays a Dual Role in MIN6 Pancreatic β Cell Function through AMPK-dependent Autophagy

Yingling Jiang1, 2*, Wei Huang1*, Jing Wang1, Zhipeng Xu1, Jieyu He1, Xiaohong Lin2, Zhiguang Zhou1, Jingjing Zhang1,✉

1. Metabolic Syndrome Research Center and Diabetes Center, Institute of Aging and Geriatric Diseases, Key Laboratory of Diabetes Immunology, Ministry of Education, Institute of Metabolism and Endocrinology, Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China 410011
2. Endocrinology Department, Zhuzhou Central Hospital, Zhuzhou, Hunan, China 412007
* Y. Jiang and W. Huang contributed equally to this work.


Metformin improves insulin sensitivity in insulin sensitive tissues such as liver, muscle and fat. However, the functional roles and the underlying mechanism of metformin action in pancreatic β cells remain elusive. Here we show that, under normal growth condition, metformin suppresses MIN6 β cell proliferation and promotes apoptosis via an AMPK-dependent and autophagy-mediated mechanism. On the other hand, metformin protects MIN6 cells against palmitic acid (PA)-induced apoptosis. Our findings indicate that metformin plays a dual role in β cell survival and overdose of this anti-diabetic drug itself may lead to potential β cell toxicity.

Keywords: metformin, pancreatic β cells, AMPK, autophagy, apoptosis

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How to cite this article:
Jiang Y, Huang W, Wang J, Xu Z, He J, Lin X, Zhou Z, Zhang J. Metformin Plays a Dual Role in MIN6 Pancreatic β Cell Function through AMPK-dependent Autophagy. Int J Biol Sci 2014; 10(3):268-277. doi:10.7150/ijbs.7929. Available from