Redox Homeostasis Involvement in the Pharmacological Effects of Metformin in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Xiangyu Teng, Josephine Brown, Laurence Morel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Significance: Metformin has been proposed as a treatment for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The primary target of metformin, the electron transport chain complex I in the mitochondria, is associated with redox homeostasis in immune cells, which plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases. This review addresses the evidence and knowledge gaps on whether a beneficial effect of metformin in lupus may be due to a restoration of a balanced redox state. Recent Advances: Clinical trials in SLE patients with mild-to-moderate disease activity and preclinical studies in mice have provided encouraging results for metformin. The mechanism by which this therapeutic effect was achieved is largely unknown. Metformin regulates redox homeostasis in a context-specific manner. Multiple cell types contribute to SLE, with evidence of increased mitochondrial oxidative stress in T cells and neutrophils. Critical Issues: The major knowledge gaps are whether the efficacy of metformin is linked to a restored redox homeostasis in the immune system, and if it does, in which cell types it occurs? We also need to know which patients may have a better response to metformin, and whether it corresponds to a specific mechanism? Finally, the identification of biomarkers to predict treatment outcomes would be of great value. Future Directions: Mechanistic studies must address the context-dependent pharmacological effects of metformin. Multiple cell types as well as a complex disease etiology should be considered. These studies must integrate the rapid advances made in understanding how metabolic programs direct the effector functions of immune cells. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 36, 462-479.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-479
Number of pages18
JournalAntioxidants and Redox Signaling
Issue number7-9
StatePublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Lupus
  • Metformin
  • Mitochondria
  • ROS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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