This systematic review investigated whether the insulin sensitiser metformin has a geroprotective effect in humans. Pubmed and Embase were searched along with databases of unpublished studies. Eligible research investigated the effect of metformin on all-cause mortality or diseases of ageing relative to non-diabetic populations or diabetics receiving other therapies with adjustment for disease control achieved. Overall, 260 full-texts were reviewed and 53 met the inclusion criteria. Diabetics taking metformin had significantly lower all-cause mortality than non-diabetics (hazard ratio (HR)=0.93, 95%CI 0.88-0.99), as did diabetics taking metformin compared to diabetics receiving non-metformin therapies (HR=0.72, 95%CI 0.65-0.80), insulin (HR=0.68, 95%CI 0.63-0.75) or sulphonylurea (HR=0.80, 95%CI 0.66-0.97). Metformin users also had reduced cancer compared to non-diabetics (rate ratio=0.94, 95%CI 0.92-0.97) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to diabetics receiving non-metformin therapies (HR=0.76, 95%CI 0.66-0.87) or insulin (HR=0.78, 95%CI 0.73-0.83). Differences in baseline characteristics were observed which had the potential to bias findings, although statistical adjustments were made. The apparent reductions in all-cause mortality and diseases of ageing associated with metformin use suggest that metformin could be extending life and healthspans by acting as a geroprotective agent.
Keywords: Geroprotection; Insulin sensitizer; Lifespan; Longevity; Metformin; ageing.
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