Metformin inhibition of neuroblastoma cell proliferation is differently modulated by cell differentiation induced by retinoic acid or overexpression of NDM29 non-coding RNA

Delfina Costa, Arianna Gigoni, Roberto Wu¨rth, Ranieri Cancedda, Tullio Florio, Aldo Pagano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Metformin is a widely used oral hypoglycemizing agent recently proposed as potential anti-cancer drug. In this study we report the antiproliferative effect of metformin treatment in a high risk neuroblastoma cell model, focusing on possible effects associated to different levels of differentiation and/or tumor initiating potential.Methods: Antiproliferative and cytotoxic effects of metformin were tested in human SKNBE2 and SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cell lines and in SKNBE2 cells in which differentiation is induced by retinoic acid treatment or stable overexpression of NDM29 non-coding RNA, both conditions characterized by a neuron-like differentiated phenotype.Results: We found that metformin significantly inhibits the proliferation of NB cells, an effect that correlates with the inhibition of Akt, while AMPK activity resulted unchanged. Notably, metformin effects were modulated in a different ways by differentiating stimuli, being abolished after retinoic acid treatment but potentiated by overexpression of NDM29.Conclusion: These data suggest the efficacy of metformin as neuroblastoma anticancer agent, and support the requirement of further studies on the possible role of the differentiation status on the antiproliferative effects of this drug.

Original languageEnglish
Article number59
JournalCancer Cell International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2 2014



  • Anti-cancer therapy
  • Differentiation
  • Metformin
  • NDM29 ncRNA
  • Neuroblastoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Genetics

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