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Metformin inhibits SUV39H1-mediated PCa migration

New study below.

They keep finding new anti-PCa mechanisms for Metformin.

Note: SUV39H1 is a histone methyltransferase involved in cell migration (& therefore metastasis).

"SUV39H1 overexpression increased PCa migration, whereas SUV39H1 depletion suppressed PCa cell migration."

"There is a positive correlation between SUV39H1 expression and PCa pathological stages."

"... metformin reduced SUV39H1 to inhibit migration of PCa cells"


Oncogenesis. 2017 May 1;6(5):e324. doi: 10.1038/oncsis.2017.28.

Metformin inhibits SUV39H1-mediated migration of prostate cancer cells.

Yu T1,2,3, Wang C4, Yang J3, Guo Y3, Wu Y1,2,3,5, Li X3,6,7.

Author information


Institute of Gene Engineered Animal Models for Human Diseases, Dalian Medical University, Dalian, China.


Institute of Integrative Medicine, Dalian Medical University, Dalian, China.


Department of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology, New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD), New York, NY, USA.


Biochemistry Section, Surgical Neurology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.


The Advanced Institute for Medical Sciences, Dalian Medical University, Dalian, China.


Department of Urology, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, NY, USA.


Perlmutter Cancer Institute, New York University, Langone Medical Center, New York, NY, USA.


Prostate cancer (PCa) is a leading cause of cancer-related death among men, largely due to incurable distant metastases. Metformin, the most common used anti-type-2 diabetes medicine, has been linked to reduced cancer risk and better diagnosis. We found that metformin was able to inhibit PCa cell migration, which correlates with tumor metastatic capability. The pathogenesis and progression of tumors are closely related to dysregulated gene expression in tumor cells through epigenetic alterations such as DNA methylation and histone modifications. We found that the level of SUV39H1, a histone methyltransferase of H3 Lys9, was reduced in metformin-treated PCa cells in a time-dependent manner. SUV39H1 overexpression increased PCa migration, whereas SUV39H1 depletion suppressed PCa cell migration. There is a positive correlation between SUV39H1 expression and PCa pathological stages. We further showed that both metformin treatment and SUV39H1 knockout in PCa cells can reduce integrin αV and β1 proteins, as well as their downstream phosphorylated focal adhesion kinase (FAK) levels, which is essential for functional adhesion signaling and tumor cell migration. Taken together, metformin reduced SUV39H1 to inhibit migration of PCa cells via disturbing the integrin-FAK signaling. Our study suggests SUV39H1 as a novel target to inhibit PCa cell migration.

PMID: 28459432 DOI: 10.1038/oncsis.2017.28

13 Replies

Thanks Patrick,

Many here probably know enough to speculate and what steps could be taken to bring this discovery to fruition for advanced metastatic prostate cancer usage. But for many others of us could you speculate what these steps might be. And how long would they take?

Thanks for this and all your posts.


As a Metformin user, I find it comforting to see the various ways that Metformin may act. However, only human studies matter. Bear in mind that most of those involve diabetics.

There is a Swiss study that used 2,000 mg/day. Four 500 mg pills in a divided dose. The population was 44 non-diabetic men with CRPC. That is a tough population to treat. Note that CRPC men are likely to be near-diabetic.

"The primary end point was the absence of disease progression at 12 wk."

"Thirty-six percent of patients were progression-free at 12 wk, 9.1% were progression-free at 24 wk, and in two patients a confirmed ≥ 50% prostate-specific antigen (PSA) decline was demonstrated. In 23 patients (52.3%) we observed a prolongation of PSA DT after starting metformin."

If it can slow progression in CRPC cases, what can it do in non-CRPC cases? Perhaps it should be prescribed at diagnosis - even in active surveillance cases. & in men at high risk for PCa? & in men over 50, say, with symptoms of the metabolic syndrome?

& it costs pennies a day.

"Treatment with metformin is safe in nondiabetic patients, and it yields objective PSA responses and may induce disease stabilization. The activity of metformin in PCa, along with its low cost, favorable toxicity profile, and positive effect on metabolic parameters, suggests that further investigation of metformin as therapy for patients with PCa is of interest."

My posts describe various ways in which we might increase survival odds. Metformin may be the most important agent in my overall strategy, but a single agent is unlikely to give optimal results.



Thanks Patrick, My nonfasting glucose was 162 today,That may be enough to get some metformin, but that was after 24 mg dexamethasone for chemo in past 36 hrs. 5th chemo went well today, scans showed significant (to me) reduction, psa not in yet, doing the happy dance today


Thank you very much Patrick for this finding. The wonderful effect of this commonly used and cheap drug to control Type-2 Diabetics. Surely the multinational pharmaceutical companies and those oncologists who are their cronies will not recommend such cheap drugs for cancer treatment! Do you have any idea about the daily dosage of Metformin that can yield this benefit on PCa?




See my response to jsatt11, above. That's why I use 2,000 mg/day.



Hi, I'm also looking for "something else" to treat this disease, but ...

... metformin seems not to be useful. Is it?


This seems to be a synergy issue as a combination drug when used with Docetaxel.The indications of Metformin explained in Patrick's post impact on different other aspects. This is my personal evaluation and certainly I appreciate your having provided a link to look at Metformin more seriously in the treatment of PCa from a different angle. Thanks.


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The study conclusion:

"Metformin use during docetaxel chemotherapy did not significantly improve prostate cancer specific or overall survival in diabetic patients with metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer."

There is no mention of dosage, which, I believe, might be as low as 500 mg in diabetics.

See my response to jsatt11, above. The study I cite is why I use 2,000 mg/day.

In the Canadian study, there is no mention of Metformin in non-diabetics. That's because it is not an intervention study. I'd like to see the full text, but it seems to be a lazy study. They are comparing diabetics who use Metformin against diabetics who don't. What are the latter using to control diabetes? Metformin is the first line of treatment & Metformin use often continues after its action is no longer sufficient. But some men do not tolerate it. It might be useful to know more about the two populations.

The dose might be an issue, but the duration could be important too. The importance of Metformin is more apparent over time.

The Swiss study is clean. Dr. Myers raves about it. I like it because it finds success in non-diabetics who are at an advance stage, but have not used Taxotere. Would similar results have occurred if they were all using Taxotere? I can't say.



You are right ... It's difficult for me, to read and understand eveything. My english is not good enough; I need time and often I'm not sure to understand exactly everything. So I appreciate your post. About one thing I can be sure. Yust 5 months after docetaxel, next week I'm going to begin with cabazitaxel, because of bone meths' progression; I'll tell to my onchologist about metformin, and she'll tell me: guidelines don't speak about metformin, why? What can I tell her?


Print out the Swiss study & hand over a copy.

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I had my prostate removed and developed a rising PSA a year after surgery.

I went on a Plant-Based Diet eliminating all dairy and meat and... I am a chemist and decided to research what drugs I should take and I took the following drugs and still take them everyday...

4-Methylumbelliferone (4-MU or Cantabiline) 400 mg q.d. (3x day). Blocks PCa metastasis by abrogating HA signaling and hyaluronic acid synthesis. In recently released Paper Clip documents from WWII 4-MU was tested on concentration camp prisoners and reversed metastatic prostate cancer to the bone in 100% of the concentration camp. These amazing studies only became public recently with the release of the Paper Clip documents. Operation Paper Clip was the United States name for our bringing thousands of Nazi scientists to America which remained highly classified until just recently. 4-MU does NOT lower PSA but it does block metastases to the bone and seems to also be able to reverse bone metastases as well. This drug is available without a prescription throughout Europe and cost about $4 for a month's supple.

Isosilybin B 48 mg b.i.d. (2x day) Blocks androgen receptors through a different mechanism than drugs like Casodex (Bicalutamide) and unlike Casodex does NOT stop working after extended use. Anti-tumor action in bladder and prostate cancer cells. You can buy Life's Extension's European Milk Thistle which contains this drug.

Today, many years later, I have NO signs of bone metastasis and my PSA is < .001 for many years now. Good Luck!


Horay another plus for metformin. My pharmasist thinks its a wonder drug. Thanks Patrick.


Patrick, we now have at least 2 drugs/supplements, that interfere with the movement/migration of Pca cells. Firstly, Pca cells like to migrate as a group. They group up or stick together, via the over expression of Galectin-3. The only know material---a supplemental substrate to prevent the over expression of Galectin 3--is Pectasol-C, as you know is in Phase 2 testing in Israel and 3 in the USA. The Israeli Phase 1 trial summary, not only showed a suppression of the Galectin-3, but the occurrence of apoptosis, of some of the Pca cells. Unknown what was causing the Cell death, but theoretically put forth was the clogging of certain receptors. That from the Study notations. The reason I bring this up as to Metformin and Migration, is that if you keep the Pca cells from congregating, they do not move very well. This is not to say after a long time the cells--especially refractive ones, can move to a distant location one by one--these bastards having an ability to send a post card, to have their friends, join them at a luscious bone location, one by one.

So if you can stop congregation and find a way to stop the means of transportation/migration we have a method of keeping the Pca cells from causing distant metastasis. The Metformin, which you and I both take now appears, to have an enzyme SUV39H1, that prevents migration. WE know cells just do not take off by themselves and find a new home in bone or soft tissue---they need a transporter, or a bus ride.

It is interesting to note that another enzyme Hyaluronidase, has been identified as a transporter as well. So it might be possible that Pca cells have the means of choosing their transportation. Some may use the SUV bus, and others the Hyaluronidase taxi.

To note that the Material BIRM, when getting into the Ecuadorian publications in Spanish, and presentations made at the AIDS conferences of 1996, 1998, and 2003, on cancer---propose that BIRM upsets the Electrical Balance of the Pca cell, limiting the ability for the cells to create the enzyme, to travel on.

So it appears, my personal research with a lot of your help, Patrick, is developing a possible durable plan. Simply put, we have supplements that cause apoptosis in Test Tubes, and nude mice. We have a means to stop angiogenesis, with supplements, such as Pectasol-C, and its action on Galectin-3, and now two transport enzymes are identified with drugs/supplements to prevent transportation. So it is STOP, Arrest, and Kill. Simple, but the drug, and allied trade industry and the FDA, have no benefit to be gained--my cynicalism.

Seeing Dr. D next Thursday at 4 PM. Want to join?


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