Recently there has been growing interest in the effects of antioxidants on insulin activity. In the present study, we investigated the effect of metformin on free radical activity and insulin sensitivity in high fructose-fed rats, a diet that leads to insulin resistance. The animals were divided into four groups (n = 16 per group; experiment duration = 6 weeks): the control (C) group received a standard diet; the control metformin (CM) group was fed a control diet and received metformin (200 mg x kg(-1) x day(-1) in water); the fructose control (FT) group was fed a diet in which fructose composed 56.8% of the total carbohydrates; and the fructose metformin (FM) group received high-fructose diet and metformin (200 mg x kg(-1) x day(-1) in water). The glucose clamp technique was used to determine insulin sensitivity in eight animals per group. Metabolic and oxidative stress parameters were measured in the remaining rats. In the FT rats, insulin resistance, lower red cell CuZn superoxide dismutase activity and lower blood reduced glutathione were observed. Metformin treatment improved both the insulin activity and the antioxidant defense system. In the CM group, metformin had no effect on metabolic parameters, but improved red cell antioxidant enzyme activities and the blood GSH level, which suggests that it has an antioxidant activity independent of its effect on insulin activity.

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