Can Metformin Play a Role in Preventing Ovarian Cancer?
Posted: Wednesday, November 20, 2019
According to research findings published in Clinical Cancer Research, fibrosis has been found to naturally occur in the ovaries as women age and may play a role in the development of ovarian cancer. In addition, the research also posited that metformin, traditionally a diabetes treatment, may be effective in stopping the process of fibrosis. “This study was about putting two and two together,” said senior study author Barbara C. Vanderhyden, PhD, of The Ottawa Hospital, in an institutional press release. “Now, we’re doing more research to learn how fibrosis develops in the ovaries, and how metformin stops it from happening.”
The researchers sought to determine why ovarian cancer risk increases after a woman reaches menopause, since ovulation has ceased by that time. To investigate the relationships between age, ovulation, and risk of disease, the study first included mice that had undergone a treatment that prevented ovulation. The treated ovaries did not develop ovarian fibrosis as they aged. Next, 27 human ovaries from women aged 21 to 82 were examined, 5 of which had been removed from postmenopausal women who had been taking metformin. Although the majority of the postmenopausal ovaries showed signs of fibrosis, none of the five removed from women taking metformin were fibrotic.
The fibrotic ovaries were found to have an increased cell ratio of CD206+:CD68+ as well as higher CD8-positive T-cell infiltration. Increased DPP4+αSMA+ fibroblasts, which support fibrosis, was also noted. In ovaries removed from women who had been taking metformin, lessened CD8-positive T-cell infiltration and a decreased CD206+:CD68+ cell ratio were noted.
“We hope that someday metformin may prove to be an effective preventative treatment for younger women who are at high risk of ovarian cancer, but who can’t remove their ovaries because they still want to have children,” said Dr. Vanderhyden.
Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.