Rajh 2016 PLOS ONE

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Rajh M, Dolinar K, Miš K, Pavlin M, Pirkmajer (2016) Medium renewal blocks antiproliferative effects of metformin in cultured MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. PLOS ONE 11:e0154747.

» PMID: 27135408 Open Access

Rajh M, Dolinar K, Mis K, Pavlin M, Pirkmajer S (2016) PLOS ONE

Abstract: Epidemiological studies indicate that metformin, a widely used type 2 diabetes drug, might reduce breast cancer risk and mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes. Metformin might protect against breast cancer indirectly by ameliorating systemic glucose homeostasis. Alternatively, it might target breast cancer cells directly. However, experiments using MDA-MB-231 cells, a standard in vitro breast cancer model, produced inconsistent results regarding effectiveness of metformin as a direct anti-cancer agent. Metformin treatments in cultured MDA-MB-231 cells are usually performed for 48-96 hours, but protocols describing renewal of cell culture medium during these prolonged treatments are rarely reported. We determined whether medium renewal protocol might alter sensitivity of MDA-MB-231 cells treated with metformin. Using the MTS assay, BrdU incorporation and Hoechst staining we found that treatment with metformin for 48-72 hours failed to suppress viability and proliferation of MDA-MB-231 cells if low-glucose (1 g/L) medium was renewed every 24 hours. Conversely, metformin suppressed their viability and proliferation if medium was not renewed. Without renewal glucose concentration in the medium was reduced to 0.1 g/L in 72 hours, which likely explains increased sensitivity to metformin under these conditions. We also examined whether 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG) reduces resistance to metformin. In the presence of 2-DG metformin reduced viability and proliferation of MDA-MB-231 cells with or without medium renewal, thus demonstrating that 2-DG reduces their resistance to metformin. In sum, we show that medium renewal blocks anti-proliferative effects of metformin during prolonged treatments in low-glucose medium. Differences in medium renewal protocols during prolonged treatments might therefore lead to apparently inconsistent results as regards effectiveness of metformin as a direct anti-cancer agent. Finally, our results indicate that co-therapy with 2-DG and metformin might provide an effective strategy to overcome metformin resistance of breast cancer cells.

Labels: MiParea: Pharmacology;toxicology  Pathology: Cancer 

Organism: Human  Tissue;cell: Genital, Other cell lines