Metformin, a widely used antidiabetic drug, has garnered significant attention due to its blood sugar-lowering effects primarily aimed at treating type 2 diabetes. Over several decades of clinical practice, it has evolved into a first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes.
Metformin boasts two major advantages: firstly, its safety profile with minimal adverse reactions, allowing for long-term use; secondly, its affordability.
Through years of clinical application, Metformin has shown additional clinical benefits beyond diabetes management. These include its potential to prevent and delay the onset of diabetes, its utility in treating metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome, as well as its suggested role in cancer prevention and slowing down aging.
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Metformin exerts its glucose-lowering effects through various pathways, primarily by inhibiting hepatic glucose production and activating AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). These mechanisms collaborate to enhance insulin sensitivity, leading to increased glucose uptake and utilization in peripheral tissues.
Metformin: More Than Just a Diabetes Medication
The anti-aging effects of Metformin are further supported by existing animal experiments. Studies have indicated that Metformin extends the average and maximum lifespan of nematode worms and fruit flies. In mouse model research, Metformin has shown the potential to extend lifespan by over 15%, which roughly translates to an increase of 5 years in human healthspan. Remarkably, even when treatment begins in midlife or older, significant longevity benefits can still be observed.
Recent studies propose that the underlying principle behind these effects of Metformin involves its activation of an enzyme called AMPK, an energy sensor that gauges cellular energy levels. Upon AMPK activation, a cascade of biochemical responses is initiated, including heightened mitochondrial activity, reduced oxidative stress, diminished inflammation, and clearance of cellular debris. These changes are believed to contribute to the deceleration of the aging process.
While further research is warranted to fully understand the efficacy and mechanisms underlying Metformin’s role in extending lifespan and promoting healthspan, this extensively used and relatively safe medication holds tremendous promise and research value in the field of anti-aging.