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Molecular Therapy - Oncolytics


Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) shows promising antitumor activity in preclinical studies. However, the efficacy of recombinant TRAIL in clinical trials is compromised by its short serum half-life and low in vivo stability. Induction of endogenous TRAIL may overcome the limitations and become a new strategy for cancer treatment. Here, we discovered that metformin increased TRAIL expression and induced apoptosis in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. Metformin did not alter the expression of TRAIL receptors (TRAIL-R1/DR4 and TRAIL-R2/DR5). Metformin-upregulated TRAIL was secreted into conditioned medium (CM) and found to be functional, since the CM promoted TNBC cells undergoing apoptosis, which was abrogated by a recombinant TRAIL-R2-Fc chimera. Moreover, blockade of TRAIL binding to DR4/DR5 or specific knockdown of TRAIL expression significantly attenuated metformin-induced apoptosis. Studies with a tumor xenograft model revealed that metformin not only significantly inhibited tumor growth but also elicited apoptosis and enhanced TRAIL expression in vivo. Collectively, we have demonstrated that upregulation of TRAIL and activation of death receptor signaling are pivotal for metformin-induced apoptosis in TNBC and NSCLC cells. Our studies identify a novel mechanism of action of metformin exhibiting potent antitumor activity via induction of endogenous TRAIL.

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Cell Press

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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