Purpose: Metformin (MF) intake associates with reduced levels of circulating low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C). This has been attributed to the activation of AMPK, which differentially regulates the expression of multiple genes involved in cholesterol synthesis and trafficking. However, the exact mechanism underlying the LDL-C lowering effect of MF remains ambiguous. Methods: MF-treated Hep-G2 and HuH7 cells were evaluated for cell viability and the expression status of key lipid metabolism-related genes along with LDL-C uptake efficiency. Results: MF treatment resulted in decreased expression and secretion of PCSK9, increased expression of LDLR and enhanced LDL-C uptake in hepatocytes. It also resulted in increased expression of activated AMPK (p-AMPK) and decreased expression of SREBP2 and HNF-1α proteins. Transcriptomic analysis of MF-treated Hep-G2 cells confirmed these findings and showed that other key lipid metabolism-related genes including those that encode apolipoproteins (APOB, APOC2, APOC3 and APOE), MTTP and LIPC are downregulated. Lastly, MF treatment associated with reduced HMG-CoA reductase expression and activity. Conclusions: These findings suggest that MF treatment reduces circulating LDL-C levels by suppressing PCSK9 expression and enhancing LDLR expression; hence the potential therapeutic utility of MF in hypercholesterolemia.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems