Research Papers:

Metformin affects thyroid function in male rats

Xiaowen Hu, Yang Liu, Changmei Wang, Lulu Hou, Xiaoyan Zheng, Yeqiu Xu, Lin Ding and Shuguang Pang _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:107589-107595. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.22536

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Xiaowen Hu1, Yang Liu3, Changmei Wang2, Lulu Hou2, Xiaoyan Zheng2, Yeqiu Xu2, Lin Ding2 and Shuguang Pang2

1Department of Infectious Diseases, Jinan Central Hospital Affiliated to Shandong University, Jinan 250013, China

2Department of Endocrinology, Jinan Central Hospital Affiliated to Shandong University, Jinan 250013, China

3School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia Qld 4072, Australia

Correspondence to:

Shuguang Pang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: metformin; thyrotropin; free triiodothyronine; free thyroxine; type 2 diabetes

Received: June 26, 2017     Accepted: October 28, 2017     Published: November 20, 2017


An intriguing area of research in type 2 diabetes recently discovered association of metformin therapy with thyroid functional and morphological changes. We aimed to evaluate the external symptoms and biochemical indicators concerning thyroid function in rats treated with metformin. Male wistar rats were randomly divided into four groups: Group (D–/M–), Group (D–/M+), Group (D+/M–), and Group (D+/M+), according to whether they were induced to diabetic model or placed on metformin. Characteristics of food intake, body weight, and other external symptoms were recorded. Thyroid function, concluding serum thyrotropin (TSH), free triiodothyronine (FT3), free thyroxine (FT4), were measured. We found a significantly higher TSH and lower FT4 in rats in Group (D+/M–), compared with rats in Group (D–/M–), but no significant change in FT3 level. Rats on metformin treatment exhibited relatively lower body weight and symptoms like irritability and diarrhea, concomitant with marked increase in FT3 and FT4 , no matter if they were induced to diabetic model or not . A slight but significant reduction in TSH concentration was also observed in rats received metformin. These data reveal that metformin can modify thyroid function with corresponding clinical symptoms of hyperthyroidism in male rats. Metformin’s contribution to suppress TSH and increase FT3, FT4 should arise our attention to its treatment interference in clinical practice.

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