J Cancer 2017; 8(6):1053-1061. doi:10.7150/jca.16584 This issue

Research Paper

Effects of prolonged exposure to low dose metformin in thyroid cancer cell lines

Safar Kheder, Karen Sisley, Sirwan Hadad, Sabapathy P Balasubramanian

Department of Oncology & Metabolism, University of Sheffield, S10 2RX.

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Kheder S, Sisley K, Hadad S, Balasubramanian SP. Effects of prolonged exposure to low dose metformin in thyroid cancer cell lines. J Cancer 2017; 8(6):1053-1061. doi:10.7150/jca.16584. Available from https://www.jcancer.org/v08p1053.htm

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Background: Thyroid cancer is generally associated with an excellent prognosis, but there is significant long-term morbidity with standard treatment. Some sub-types however have a poor prognosis. Metformin, an oral anti-diabetic drug is shown to have anti-cancer effects in several types of cancer (breast, lung and ovarian cancer). The proposed mechanisms include activation of the Adenosine Mono-phosphate-activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) pathway and inhibition of the mTOR pathway (which promotes growth and proliferation). By inhibiting hepatic gluconeogenesis and increasing glucose uptake by muscles, metformin decreases blood glucose and circulating Insulin levels.

Aims: Explore the effect of metformin on the growth and proliferation of thyroid cancer cell lines.

Methods: The effects of metformin on thyroid cancer cell lines (FTC-133, K1E7, RO82-W-1, 8305C and TT) and normal thyroid follicular cells (Nthy-ori 3-1) were investigated using the MTT (3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5 diphenyl tetrazolium bromide) assay for cell proliferation; clonogenic assays; FACS analysis for apoptosis and cell cycle, H2A.X phosphorylation (γH2AX) assay for DNA repair and scratch assay for cell migration.

Results: Metformin inhibited cell proliferation and colony formation at 0.03 mM and above and inhibited cell migration at 0.3 mM. At concentrations of 0.1 mM and above metformin increased the percentage of apoptotic cells and induced cell cycle arrest in G0/G1 phase at minimum concentration of 0.3 mM. Unlike previous reports, no effect on DNA repair response was demonstrated.

Conclusion: Metformin suppressed growth of all thyroid cancer cell lines, at concentrations considered to be within in the therapeutic range for diabetic patients on metformin (<0.3 mM).

Keywords: Metformin, thyroid cancer, human, in vitro