Metformin, the gold standard in type 2 diabetes treatment, is a drug with multi-faceted effects. Currently, metformin has gained much attention as an agent that may find application in regenerative medicine. In this study, we considered its pro-osteogenic function in the course of in vitro osteogenesis of multipotent stromal cells derived from rat adipose tissue (rASCs). In addition, we evaluated the effect of metformin treatment on bone metabolism in a model of cranial defect in nondiabetic rats. In vitro study showed that metformin that is introduced to the culture medium at concentration equal 500 µM may promote the differentiation of rASCs into bone-forming cells, which express mRNA and secrets proteins that are related to the functional tissue (namely, alkaline phosphatase and osteocalcin). Osteogenic effect of metformin, as determined using in vitro model, was also manifested with the formation of mineralized extracellular matrix rich calcium and phosphorous deposits. We have also found, that in undifferentiated rASCs, metformin significantly activates a critical regulatory factor for osteogenic differentiation, i.e., AMPK. Moreover, using in vivo model we showed metformin administration at a dose of 250 mg/kg/day accelerated bone healing and the formation of mature tissue at a fracture site in rat cranial defect model. The obtained results shed promising light on metformin application in regenerative orthopedics, both as an agent improving functionality of ASCs for therapeutic transplantation, as well as a medication enhancing the bone healing process.
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