Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Effect of metformin on insulin receptor binding and glycaemic control in type II diabetes.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983; 286 doi: (Published 12 March 1983) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983;286:830
  1. J M Lord,
  2. S I White,
  3. C J Bailey,
  4. T W Atkins,
  5. R F Fletcher,
  6. K G Taylor


    To investigate the effect of metformin on insulin receptor binding and diabetic control, eight obese type II diabetic patients were studied before treatment, after one and four weeks of taking metformin (500 mg thrice daily), and four weeks after withdrawal of the drug. After one and four weeks of treatment the number of erythrocyte insulin receptors had increased by 116% and 184% respectively. This was due almost entirely to an increase in the number of low affinity binding sites. The number of receptors was still raised four weeks after metformin had been withdrawn. Diabetic control as assessed by urinary glucose, glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1), and glucose tolerance values was significantly improved during metformin treatment, while plasma insulin concentrations were not altered. These results indicate that metformin produces a rapid and protracted increase in low affinity insulin receptors in type II diabetes, associated with greater insulin sensitivity and improved diabetic control.