Is Metformin a Therapeutic Paradigm for Colorectal Cancer: Insight into the Molecular Pathway?

Zar Chi Thent, Nurul Hannim Zaidun, Muhammad Fairuz Azmi, Mu Izuddin Senin, Haszianaliza Haslan, Ruzain Salehuddin
Current Drug Targets 2017, 18 (6): 734-750
Colorectal cancer (CRC) remains one of the major leading causes of cancer related morbidity and mortality. Apart from the conventional anti-neoplastic agents, metformin, a biguanide anti-diabetic agent, has recently found to have anti-cancer property. Several studies observed the effect of metformin towards its anti-cancer effect on colon or colorectal cancer in diabetic patients. However, only a few studies showed its effect on colorectal cancer in relation to the non-diabetic status. The present review aimed to highlight the insight into the molecular pathway of metformin towards colorectal cancer in the absence of diabetes mellitus. In CRC-independent of diabetes mellitus, highly deregulation of PI3K/AKT pathway is found which activates the downstream mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Metformin inhibits cancer growth in colon by suppressing the colonic epithelial proliferation by inhibiting the mTOR pathway. Metformin exerts its anti-neoplastic effects by acting on tumour suppressor pathway via activating the adenosine monophosphate.activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling pathway. Metformin interrupts the glucose metabolism by activating the AMPK. Metformin reduces tumour cell growth and metastasis by activating the p53 tumour suppressor gene. In addition to its therapeutic benefits, metformin is easily accessible, cost effective with better tolerance to the patients compared to the chemotherapeutic agents. This review summarised modern findings on the therapeutic applications of metformin on the colorectal cancer with no evidences of diabetes mellitus.

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