Metformin activates a duodenal Ampk-dependent pathway to lower hepatic glucose production in rats

Frank A. Duca, Clémence D. Côté, Brittany A. Rasmussen, Melika Zadeh-Tahmasebi, Guy A. Rutter, Beatrice M. Filippi, Tony K.T. Lam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

275 Scopus citations


Metformin is a first-line therapeutic option for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, even though its underlying mechanisms of action are relatively unclear. Metformin lowers blood glucose levels by inhibiting hepatic glucose production (HGP), an effect originally postulated to be due to a hepatic AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)-dependent mechanism. However, studies have questioned the contribution of hepatic AMPK to the effects of metformin on lowering hyperglycemia, and a gut-brain-liver axis that mediates intestinal nutrient- and hormone-induced lowering of HGP has been identified. Thus, it is possible that metformin affects HGP through this inter-organ crosstalk. Here we show that intraduodenal infusion of metformin for 50 min activated duodenal mucosal Ampk and lowered HGP in a rat 3 d high fat diet (HFD)-induced model of insulin resistance. Inhibition of duodenal Ampk negated the HGP-lowering effect of intraduodenal metformin, and both duodenal glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (Glp-1r)-protein kinase A (Pka) signaling and a neuronal-mediated gut-brain-liver pathway were required for metformin to lower HGP. Preabsorptive metformin also lowered HGP in rat models of 28 d HFD-induced obesity and insulin resistance and nicotinamide (NA)-streptozotocin (STZ)-HFD-induced type 2 diabetes. In an unclamped setting, inhibition of duodenal Ampk reduced the glucose-lowering effects of a bolus metformin treatment in rat models of diabetes. These findings show that, in rat models of both obesity and diabetes, metformin activates a previously unappreciated duodenal Ampk-dependent pathway to lower HGP and plasma glucose levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)506-511
Number of pages6
JournalNature Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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