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Metformin attenuates inflammation and boosts autophagy in the liver and intestine of chronologically aged rats.

Experimental Gerontology 2023 November 14
BACKGROUND: Our previous studies found that autophagy levels in liver and intestinal segments of naturally aging rats were downregulated, and the expression of pro-inflammatory factors was increased. The increased expression of pro-inflammatory factors might be related to the downregulation of autophagy. AMPK is the most critical upstream targeting and regulating molecule of autophagy, and Metformin, as an agonist of AMPK, has the effects of anti-inflammation and anti-aging. We pretreated 29-month-old naturally aging rats with Metformin for a short period and observed the changes in autophagy levels and pro-inflammatory factors in the liver, ileum, and colon after 31 days of intervention and preliminarily investigated the mechanism of its action.

METHODS: 29-month-old SPF male Wistar rats were divided into three groups: The control group, the Metformin 100 mg/kg intervention group, and the Metformin 250 mg/kg intervention group, with eight rats in each group. At 29 months, different concentrations of Metformin (100 mg/kg, 250 mg/kg) were given by gavage once a day until 30 months, and the control group was kept generally until 30 months. Western Blot was used to assess the expression levels of AMPK, P-AMPK, LC3, and P62 proteins in the liver and intestinal tissues. Intestinal and liver tissues were immunofluorescence labeled for LC3 and P62 proteins. Moreover, RT-qPCR was conducted to detect the expression levels of pro-inflammatory factors IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-6, and MMP-9 mRNA in liver and intestinal tissues.

RESULTS: Short-term Metformin pretreatment (31 days) in naturally aging rats (29 months old) increased autophagy levels and down-regulated the expression of various pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, TNF-α, MMP-9, and IL-6) in various intestinal segments and the liver-the expression of LC3II protein enriched with the increase of Metformin concentration. The level of P62 protein decreased with the accumulation of Metformin concentration. And a higher concentration of Metformin was associated with increased expression of P-AMPK protein.

CONCLUSIONS: Metformin intervention can boost the autophagy level in the liver and intestine and reduce the expression of aging-related inflammatory factors in aged rats, and these effects may be related to the increase of the AMPK phosphorylation level.

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