(Ir)relevance of metformin treatment in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer: An open-label, randomized phase II trial

Michele Reni, Erica Dugnani, Stefano Cereda, Carmen Belli, Gianpaolo Balzano, Roberto Nicoletti, Daniela Liberati, Valentina Pasquale, Marina Scavini, Paola Maggiora, Valeria Sordi, Vito Lampasona, Domenica Ceraulo, Gaetano Di Terlizzi, Claudio Doglioni, Massimo Falconi, Lorenzo Piemonti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: We aimed to assess the safety and efficacy of metformin for treating patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer and to identify endocrine and metabolic phenotypic features or tumor molecular markers associated with sensitivity to metformin antineoplastic action. Experimental Design: We designed an open-label, randomized, phase II trial to assess the efficacy of adding metformin to a standard systemic therapy with cisplatin, epirubicin, capecitabine, and gemcitabine (PEXG) in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. Patients ages 18 years or older with metastatic pancreatic cancer were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive PEXG every 4 weeks in combination or not with 2 g oral metformin daily. The primary endpoint was 6-months progression-free survival (PFS-6) in the intention-to-treat population. Results: Between August 2010 and January 2014, we randomly assigned 60 patients to receive PEXG with (n = 31) or without metformin (n = 29). At the preplanned interim analysis, the study was ended for futility. PFS-6 was 52% [95% confidence interval (CI), 33-69] in the control group and 42% (95% CI, 24-59) in the metformin group (P = 0.61). Furthermore, there was no difference in disease-free survival and overall survival between groups. Despite endocrine metabolic modifications induced by metformin, there was no correlation with the outcome. Single-nucleotide polymorphism rs11212617 predicted glycemic response, but not tumor response to metformin. Gene expression on tumor tissue did not predict tumor response to metformin. Conclusions: Addition of metformin at the dose commonly used in diabetes did not improve outcome in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer treated with standard systemic therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1076-1085
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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