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21 September 2023

Metformin reduces bone resorption in apical periodontitis


The authors of this study have previously demonstrated that auxiliary metformin therapy promotes healing of apical periodontitis. Here, the team aimed to investigate the effects of metformin on osteoblast differentiation and osteoclast formation in cultured cells and rat apical periodontitis.


Murine pre-osteoblasts MC3T3-E1 and macrophages RAW264.7 were cultured under hypoxia (2% oxygen) or normoxia (21% oxygen) and stimulated with receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL) when indicated.

Metformin was added to the cultures to evaluate its anti-hypoxic effects. Expressions of osteoblast differentiation regulator runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2), RANKL, and osteoclast marker tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) were assessed by Western blot.

Apical periodontitis was induced in mandibular first molars of 10 Sprague-Dawley rats. Root canal therapy with or without metformin supplement was performed. Periapical bone resorption was measured by micro-computed tomography. Immunohistochemistry was used to examine RUNX2, RANKL, and TRAP expressions.


Hypoxia suppressed RUNX2 expression and enhanced RANKL synthesis in pre-osteoblasts. TRAP production increased in macrophages after hypoxia and/or RANKL stimulation. Metformin reversed hypoxia-induced RUNX2 suppression and RANKL synthesis in pre-osteoblasts. Metformin also inhibited hypoxia and RANKL-enhanced TRAP synthesis in macrophages. Intracanal metformin diminished bone loss in rat apical periodontitis. Comparing with vehicle control, cells lining bone surfaces in metformin-treated lesions had significantly stronger expression of RUNX2 and decreased synthesis of RANKL and TRAP.


Alleviation of bone resorption by intracanal metformin was associated with enhanced osteoblast differentiation and diminished osteoclast formation in rat apical periodontitis. Our results endorsed the role of metformin as an effective medicament for inflammatory bone diseases.

Chi-Yuan Hong et al. "Metformin Reduces Bone Resorption in Apical Periodontitis Through Regulation of Osteoblast and Osteoclast Differentiation." Journal of Endodontics. 13 July 2023. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joen.2023.07.005

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