Effect of metformin on metabolic improvement and gut microbiota

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2014 Oct;80(19):5935-43. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01357-14. Epub 2014 Jul 18.


Metformin is commonly used as the first line of medication for the treatment of metabolic syndromes, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D). Recently, metformin-induced changes in the gut microbiota have been reported; however, the relationship between metformin treatment and the gut microbiota remains unclear. In this study, the composition of the gut microbiota was investigated using a mouse model of high-fat-diet (HFD)-induced obesity with and without metformin treatment. As expected, metformin treatment improved markers of metabolic disorders, including serum glucose levels, body weight, and total cholesterol levels. Moreover, Akkermansia muciniphila (12.44%±5.26%) and Clostridium cocleatum (0.10%±0.09%) abundances increased significantly after metformin treatment of mice on the HFD. The relative abundance of A. muciniphila in the fecal microbiota was also found to increase in brain heart infusion (BHI) medium supplemented with metformin in vitro. In addition to the changes in the microbiota associated with metformin treatment, when other influences were controlled for, a total of 18 KEGG metabolic pathways (including those for sphingolipid and fatty acid metabolism) were significantly upregulated in the gut microbiota during metformin treatment of mice on an HFD. Our results demonstrate that the gut microbiota and their metabolic pathways are influenced by metformin treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Clostridium / drug effects
  • Clostridium / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Metformin / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microbiota / drug effects*
  • Microbiota / physiology
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Verrucomicrobia / drug effects
  • Verrucomicrobia / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Metformin