Indexed on: 20 Nov '17Published on: 17 Nov '17Published in: Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Disruption of the intestinal epithelial barrier, that involves the activation of C-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), contributes to initiate and accelerate inflammation in inflammatory bowel disease. Metformin has unexpected beneficial effects other than glucose-lowering effects. Here, we provided evidence that metformin can protect against intestinal barrier dysfunction in colitis. We showed that metformin alleviated dextran sodium sulphate (DSS)-induced decreases in transepithelial electrical resistance, FITC-dextran hyperpermeability, loss of the tight junction (TJ) proteins occludin and ZO-1 and bacterial translocation in Caco-2 cell monolayers or in colitis mice models. Metformin also improved TJ proteins expression in ulcerative colitis patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. We found that metformin ameliorated the induction of colitis and reduced the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6, TNF-a and IL-1β. In addition, metformin suppressed DSS-induced JNK activation, an effect dependent on AMP-activated protein kinase α1 (AMPKα1) activation. Consistent with this finding, metformin could not maintain the barrier function of AMPKα1-silenced cell monolayers after DSS administration. These findings highlight metformin protects against intestinal barrier dysfunction. The potential mechanism may involve in the inhibition of JNK activation via an AMPKα1-dependent signalling pathway.