Metformin Improves Vascular Function in Insulin-Resistant Rats

Prasad V.G. Katakam, Michael R. Ujhelyi, Margarethe Hoenig, Allison W. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study assessed the effect of metformin treatment on insulin, mean arterial pressure (MAP), and endothelial function in insulin-resistant (IR) rats. In addition, we assessed the direct effect of metformin in vitro. Sprague-Dawley rats were randomized to control (n=28) or IR (n=28) groups. Rats were further randomized to receive metformin (300 mg/kg) or placebo for 2 weeks. MAP and insulin were measured. Subsequently, a third-order branch of the superior mesenteric artery was isolated, and endothelial function was assessed. Specifically, dose-response experiments of acetylcholine (ACh) with or without N-nitro-L-arginine (LNNA) were performed. For in vitro experiments, mesenteric arteries were removed from untreated control and IR rats and treated with metformin (100 μmol/L) before ACh±LNNA. MAP and insulin levels were improved in IR-metformin compared with IR-placebo rats. Maximal relaxation (Emax) to ACh was enhanced in IR-metformin (92±2%) compared with IR-placebo rats (44±4%) (P <0.05). Relaxation in response to ACh+LNNA was greater in IR-metformin (33±4%) than in IR-placebo rats (12±4%) but remained depressed compared with control rats (Emax=68±5%). The control group was not affected by metformin. In vitro treatment of arteries with metformin in response to ACh produced results similar to those in the experiments with metformin-treated rats. Although metformin improves metabolic abnormality in IR rats, this action does not appear to mediate its effect on vascular function. Both in vivo and in vitro metformin improved ACh-induced relaxation in IR rats to control levels, apparently through nitric oxide-dependent relaxation. These data suggest that metformin improves vascular function through a direct mechanism rather than by improving metabolic abnormalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance
  • Metformin
  • Nitric oxide
  • Relaxation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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