Metformin restores parkin-mediated mitophagy, suppressed by cytosolic p53

Young Mi Song, Woo Kyung Lee, Yong Ho Lee, Eun Seok Kang, Bong Soo Cha, Byung Wan Lee

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64 Citations (Scopus)


Metformin is known to alleviate hepatosteatosis by inducing 5’ adenosine monophosphate (AMP)-kinase-independent, sirtuin 1 (SIRT1)-mediated autophagy. Dysfunctional mitophagy in response to glucolipotoxicities might play an important role in hepatosteatosis. Here, we investigated the mechanism by which metformin induces mitophagy through restoration of the suppressed Parkin-mediated mitophagy. To this end, our ob/ob mice were divided into three groups: (1) ad libitum feeding of a standard chow diet; (2) intraperitoneal injections of metformin 300 mg/kg; and (3) 3 g/day caloric restriction (CR). HepG2 cells were treated with palmitate (PA) plus high glucose in the absence or presence of metformin. We detected enhanced mitophagy in ob/ob mice treated with metformin or CR, whereas mitochondrial spheroids were observed in mice fed ad libitum. Metabolically stressed ob/ob mice and PA-treated HepG2 cells showed an increase in expression of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress markers and cytosolic p53. Cytosolic p53 inhibited mitophagy by disturbing the mitochondrial translocation of Parkin, as demonstrated by immunoprecipitation. However, metformin decreased ER stress and p53 expression, resulting in induction of Parkin-mediated mitophagy. Furthermore, pifithrin-α, a specific inhibitor of p53, increased mitochondrial incorporation into autophagosomes. Taken together, these results indicate that metformin treatment facilitates Parkin-mediated mitophagy rather than mitochondrial spheroid formation by decreasing the inhibitory interaction with cytosolic p53 and increasing degradation of mitofusins.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jan 16

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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