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Research Article

Sirtuin 1–Mediated Cellular Metabolic Memory of High Glucose Via the LKB1/AMPK/ROS Pathway and Therapeutic Effects of Metformin


Cellular metabolic memory occurs in diabetic microvascular and macrovascular complications, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we investigate the role of sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) and metformin in this phenomenon. In bovine retinal capillary endothelial cells (BRECs) and retinas of diabetic rats, the inflammatory gene, nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), and the proapoptotic gene, Bax, induced by hyperglycemia, remained elevated after returning to normoglycemia. BRECs with small interfering RNA–mediated SIRT1 knockdown had increased sensitivity to hyperglycemia stress, whereas SIRT1 overexpression or activation by metformin inhibited the increase of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species–mediated glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase by poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) activity through the upregulation of liver kinase B1/AMP-activated protein kinase (LKB1/AMPK), ultimately suppressing NF-κB and Bax expression. Furthermore, we showed that hyperglycemia led to PARP activation, which in turn may have downregulated SIRT1. Of importance, this study also demonstrated that metformin suppressed the “memory” of hyperglycemia stress in the diabetic retinas, which may be involved in the SIRT1/LKB1/AMPK pathway. Our data suggest that SIRT1 is a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of the cellular metabolic memory, and the use of metformin specifically for such therapy may be a new avenue of investigation in the diabetes field.