Metal Complex Formation and Anticancer Activity of Cu(I) and Cu(II) Complexes with Metformin

Sherin Abdelrahman, Mawadda Alghrably, Marcello Campagna, Charlotte Armgard Emma Hauser, Mariusz Jaremko, Joanna Izabela Lachowicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Metformin has been used for decades in millions of type 2 diabetes mellitus patients. In this time, correlations between metformin use and the occurrence of other disorders have been noted, as well as unpredictable metformin side effects. Diabetes is a significant cancer risk factor, but unexpectedly, metformin-treated diabetic patients have lower cancer incidence. Here, we show that metformin forms stable complexes with copper (II) ions. Both copper(I)/metformin and copper(II)/metformin complexes form adducts with glutathione, the main intracellular antioxidative peptide, found at high levels in cancer cells. Metformin reduces cell number and viability in SW1222 and K562 cells, as well as in K562-200 multidrug-resistant cells. Notably, the antiproliferative effect of metformin is enhanced in the presence of copper ions.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4730
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 5 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-08-10
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Farid Ahmad from the center of excellence in genomic medicine research (CEGMR) for providing both the K562 and K562/Adr200 cell lines.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry


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