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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2016, Article ID 5813030, 13 pages
Research Article

Metformin Prevents Fatty Liver and Improves Balance of White/Brown Adipose in an Obesity Mouse Model by Inducing FGF21

1The Rheumatism Research Center, Catholic Research Institute of Medical Science, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea
2Impact Biotech, Korea 505 Banpo-Dong, Seocho-Ku, Seoul 137-040, Republic of Korea
3Division of Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea, 505 Banpo-Dong, Seocho-Ku, Seoul 137-040, Republic of Korea
4Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul 137-040, Republic of Korea

Received 14 August 2015; Revised 23 November 2015; Accepted 25 November 2015

Academic Editor: Julio Galvez

Copyright © 2016 Eun Kyung Kim et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Obesity and its associated metabolic disorders are related to the onset of fatty liver and the balance of white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT). We hypothesized that metformin, an effective pharmacological treatment for type 2 diabetes, would inhibit white adipogenesis, fatty liver, and metabolic dysfunction. Metformin was treated daily for 14 weeks in a high-fat dieting C57BL/6J mice. Serum biomarkers were analyzed and protein level was assessed using confocal staining or flow cytometry. The development of lipid drops in the liver cells and white adipocyte was measured using hematoxylin and eosin or Oil Red O stains. Gene expressions were analyzed with quantitative real-time PCR. Metformin treatment decreased the body weight and improved the metabolic profile of obese mice. In obese mice, metformin also induced the expression of BAT-related markers and increased fibroblast growth factor (FGF) 21 expression in the liver and in white adipocyte. Metformin suppressed white adipocyte differentiation via induction of FGF21. Metformin improves Treg/Th17 balance in CD4+ T cells in mice with high-fat diet-induced obesity. Metformin also improves glucose metabolism and metabolic disorder. Interleukin-17 deficiency also decreases inflammation in mice. Therefore, metformin may be therapeutically useful for the treatment of obesity and metabolic dysfunction.