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Journal Articles Interface Focus Year : 2017

Mitochondria-targeted metformins: anti-tumour and redox signalling mechanisms


Reports suggest that metformin exerts anti-cancer effects in diabetic individuals with pancreatic cancer. Thus, metformin is currently being repurposed as a potential drug in cancer treatment. Studies indicate that potent metformin analogues are required in cancer treatment because of the low bioavailability of metformin in humans at conventional antidiabetic doses. We proposed that improved mitochondrial targeting of metformin by attaching a positively charged lipophilic triphenylphosphonium group will result in a new class of mitochondria-targeted metformin analogues with significantly enhanced anti-tumour potential. Using this approach, we synthesized various mitochondria-targeted metformin analogues with different alkyl chain lengths. Results indicate that the antiproliferative effects increased with increasing alkyl chain lengths (100-fold to 1000-fold). The lead compound, mito-metformin(10), potently inhibited mitochondrial respiration through inhibition of complex I, stimulation of superoxide and hydrogen peroxide formation and activation of AMPK. When used in combination with ionizing radiation, mito-metformin(10) acted as a radiosensitizer of pancreatic cancer cells. Because of the 1000-fold-higher potency of mitochondria-targeted metformin(10), therapeutically effective plasma concentrations likely can be achieved in cancer patients.

Dates and versions

hal-01774201 , version 1 (23-04-2018)



Balaraman Kalyanaraman, Gang Cheng, Micael Hardy, Olivier Ouari, Adam Sikora, et al.. Mitochondria-targeted metformins: anti-tumour and redox signalling mechanisms. Interface Focus, 2017, 7 (2), pp.20160109. ⟨10.1098/rsfs.2016.0109⟩. ⟨hal-01774201⟩
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