Background: Chronic diseases, such as obesity and cancer, have high prevalence rates. Both diseases
have hyperinsulinemia, hyperglycemia, high levels of IGF-1 and inflammatory cytokines in common. Therefore,
these can be considered triggers for cancer development and growth. In addition, low-grade inflammation that
modulates the activation of immune cells, cellular metabolism, and production of cytokines and chemokines are
common in obesity, cancer, and insulin resistance. Pharmacological strategies are necessary when a change in
lifestyle does not improve glycemic homeostasis. In this regard, thiazolidinediones (TZD) possess multiple molecular
targets and regulate PPARγ in obesity and cancer related to insulin resistance, while metformin acts
through the AMPK pathway.
Objective: The aim of this study was to review TZD and metformin as pharmacological treatments for insulin
resistance associated with obesity and cancer.
Conclusion: Thiazolidinediones restored adiponectin secretion and leptin sensitivity, reduced lipid droplets in
hepatocytes and orexigen peptides in the hypothalamus. In cancer cells, TZD reduced proliferation, production of
reactive oxygen species, and inflammation by acting through the mTOR and NFκB pathways. Metformin has
similar effects, though these are AMPK-dependent. In addition, both drugs can be efficient against certain side
effects caused by chemotherapy.