Paradoxic effects of metformin on endothelial cells and angiogenesis

Katiuscia Dallaglio, Antonino Bruno, Anna R. Cantelmo, Alessia I. Esposito, Luca Ruggiero, Stefania Orecchioni, Angelica Calleri, Francesco Bertolini, Ulrich Pfeffer, Douglas M. Noonan, Adriana Albini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The biguanide metformin is used in type 2 diabetes management and has gained significant attention as a potential cancer preventive agent. Angioprevention represents a mechanism of chemoprevention, yet conflicting data concerning the antiangiogenic action of metformin have emerged. Here, we clarify some of the contradictory effects of metformin on endothelial cells and angiogenesis, using in vitro and in vivo assays combined with transcriptomic and protein array approaches. Metformin inhibits formation of capillary-like networks by endothelial cells; this effect is partially dependent on the energy sensor adenosine-monophosphateactivated protein kinase (AMPK) as shown by small interfering RNA knockdown. Gene expression profiling of human umbilical vein endothelial cells revealed a paradoxical modulation of several angiogenesis-associated genes and proteins by metformin, with short-term induction of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), cyclooxygenase 2 and CXC chemokine receptor 4 at the messenger RNA level and downregulation of ADAMTS1. Antibody array analysis shows an essentially opposite regulation of numerous angiogenesis-associated proteins in endothelial and breast cancer cells including interleukin-8, angiogenin and TIMP-1, as well as selective regulation of angiopioetin-1, -2, endoglin and others. Endothelial cell production of the cytochrome P450 member CYP1B1 is upregulated by tumor cell supernatants in an AMPK-dependent manner, metformin blocks this effect. Metformin inhibits VEGF-dependent activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2, and the inhibition of AMPK activity abrogates this event. Metformin hinders angiogenesis in matrigel pellets in vivo, prevents the microvessel density increase observed in obese mice on a high-fat diet, downregulating the number of white adipose tissue endothelial precursor cells. Our data show that metformin has an antiangiogenic activity in vitro and in vivo associated with a contradictory short-term enhancement of proangiogenic mediators, as well as with a differential regulation in endothelial and breast cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1055-1066
Number of pages12
JournalCarcinogenesis
Volume35
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research

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