How metformin affects various malignancies by means of microRNAs: a brief review

Cancer Cell Int. 2021 Apr 13;21(1):207. doi: 10.1186/s12935-021-01921-z.


Metformin known as the first-line orally prescribed drug for lowering blood glucose in type II diabetes (T2DM) has recently found various therapeutic applications including in cancer. Metformin has been studied for its influences in prevention and treatment of cancer through multiple mechanisms such as microRNA (miR) regulation. Alteration in the expression of miRs by metformin may play an important role in the treatment of various cancers. MiRs are single-stranded RNAs that are involved in gene regulation. By binding to the 3'UTR of target mRNAs, miRs influence protein levels. Irregularities in the expression of miRs that control the expression of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes are associated with the onset and progression of cancer. Metformin may possess an effect on tumor prevention and progression by modifying miR expression and downstream pathways. Here, we summarize the effect of metformin on different types of cancer by regulating the expression of various miRs and the associated downstream molecules.

Keywords: AMPK; Biomarker; Cancer; Mechanism of action; Metformin; MicroRNAs.

Publication types

  • Review