Reconsidering repurposing: long-term metformin treatment impairs cognition in Alzheimer’s model mice

Cho, So Yeon; Kim, Eun Woo; Park, Soo Jin; Phillips, Benjamin U.; Jeong, Jihyeon; Kim, Hyunjeong; Heath, Christopher J.; Kim, Daehwan; Jang, Yurim; López-Cruz, Laura; Saksida, Lisa M.; Bussey, Timothy J.; Lee, Do Yup and Kim, Eosu (2024). Reconsidering repurposing: long-term metformin treatment impairs cognition in Alzheimer’s model mice. Translational Psychiatry, 14, article no. 34.



Metformin, a primary anti-diabetic medication, has been anticipated to provide benefits for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), also known as “type 3 diabetes”. Nevertheless, some studies have demonstrated that metformin may trigger AD pathology and even elevate AD risk in humans. Despite this, limited research has elucidated the behavioral outcomes of metformin treatment, which would hold significant translational value. Thus, we aimed to perform thorough behavioral research on the prolonged administration of metformin to mice: We administered metformin (300 mg/kg/day) to transgenic 3xTg-AD and non-transgenic (NT) C57BL/6 mice over 1 and 2 years, respectively, and evaluated their behaviors across multiple domains via touchscreen operant chambers, including motivation, attention, memory, visual discrimination, and cognitive flexibility. We found metformin enhanced attention, inhibitory control, and associative learning in younger NT mice (≤16 months). However, chronic treatment led to impairments in memory retention and discrimination learning at older age. Furthermore, metformin caused learning and memory impairment and increased levels of AMPKα1-subunit, β-amyloid oligomers, plaques, phosphorylated tau, and GSK3β expression in AD mice. No changes in potential confounding factors on cognition, including levels of motivation, locomotion, appetite, body weight, blood glucose, and serum vitamin B12, were observed in metformin-treated AD mice. We also identified an enhanced amyloidogenic pathway in db/db mice, as well as in Neuro2a-APP695 cells and a decrease in synaptic markers, such as PSD-95 and synaptophysin in primary neurons, upon metformin treatment. Our findings collectively suggest that the repurposing of metformin should be carefully reconsidered when this drug is used for individuals with AD.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions