Metformin induced expression of Hsp60 in human THP-1 monocyte cells

Cell Stress Chaperones. 2012 Jan;17(1):23-8. doi: 10.1007/s12192-011-0282-6. Epub 2011 Jul 16.


Metformin is in widespread clinical use for the treatment of diabetes mellitus in patients. It has been shown to inhibit mitochondrial bioenergetic functions by inhibiting complex I of the electron transport chain. The expression of mitochondrial-specific molecular stress protein Hsp60 is a key consequence of mitochondrial impairment. Since this protein has important immune-modulatory properties, we have investigated the expression of Hsp60 in human THP-1 monocyte cells exposed to metformin. In this study, we demonstrate significant up-regulation of Hsp60 at both mRNA and protein levels when these cells were exposed to metformin at therapeutic dosage levels. Interestingly, there was also an increase in expression of CD14 mRNA in these cells. This suggested a possible modulation of the differentiation rates of the THP-1 cells during exposure to metformin. As monocyte differentiation marks a critical step in atherosclerosis, these observations suggest that long-term exposure to metformin could have important implications for the diabetic patient.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chaperonin 60 / genetics
  • Chaperonin 60 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / genetics
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / metabolism
  • Metformin / pharmacology*
  • Monocytes / cytology
  • Monocytes / drug effects*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects*


  • Chaperonin 60
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Metformin