The pleiotropic effects of metformin: Time for prospective studies

Daniel Ian Bromage, Derek M. Yellon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The global prevalence of diabetes has risen to epidemic proportions and the trend is predicted to continue. The consequent burden of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality is a major public health concern and new treatments are required to mitigate the deleterious effects of cardiovascular disease in diabetic patients. Ischaemia–reperfusion injury is well known to exacerbate the harmful effects of acute myocardial infarction and subsequent therapeutic reperfusion, and several mechanical and pharmacological approaches to mitigating this injury have been investigated. Metformin, which is cheap, relatively safe and widely used in type 2 diabetes, is one such pharmacotherapy with considerable pre-clinical evidence for cardioprotective utility beyond its glucose-lowering effect. However, despite convincing basic evidence its translation to clinical application has largely been limited to studies of cardiovascular risk. There are several barriers to prospective randomized assessment in the context of acute myocardial infarction, not least the accessibility and already widespread use of metformin among patients with type 2 diabetes at high risk of cardiovascular events. In the place of class 1 evidence, well-designed prospective cohort studies of the potential pleiotropic utility of metformin in cardiovascular disease, and particularly its benefit in ischaemia–reperfusion injury, are needed. Given the availability of metformin worldwide, this is particularly true in low- and middle-income countries where the optimal therapy for acute myocardial infarction, primary percutaneous coronary intervention, may not be available, and instead patients are managed with thrombolysis. As this is less effective, metformin as an adjunct to thrombolysis (or PPCI) could represent an effective, cheap means of cardioprotection with global relevance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCardiovascular Diabetology
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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