Sudhansu Dey, MD, PhD, Director, Division of Reproductive Sciences.

Sudhansu Dey, MD, PhD, Director,
Division of Reproductive Sciences

Metformin, a medication routinely used to treat type 2 diabetes, may also play a role in blocking a significant cause of preterm birth, according to findings published July 25, 2016, in JCI The Journal of Clinical Investigation

Using mice bred to be prone to premature birth, this early-stage work was led by a team of scientists at Cincinnati Children’s with colleagues in France and Japan. 

The study details a little-understood molecular pathway that can lead to premature birth by disrupting the function of the decidua, a membrane that lines the uterus and supports the continued growth of developing fetuses. The researchers also demonstrated two successful methods for restoring the lining’s function and achieving healthy, full-term births.

“This proof-of-concept study illuminates a potential mechanism behind preterm birth,” says study senior author Sudhansu Dey, MD, PhD, Director, Division of Reproductive Sciences. “It also demonstrates possible remedies that are already approved for human use.”

Dey says his team has not found any human clinical trials investigating the use of metformin in preventing preterm birth. Preparing and conducting such trials could take several years.