Most FDA-approved drugs are not equally effective in all patients, suggesting that identification of biomarkers to predict responders to a chemoprevention agent will be needed to stratify patients and achieve maximum benefit. The goal of this study was to investigate both patient-specific and cell context-specific heterogeneity of metformin response, using fibroblast cell lines and induced pluripotent stem cells differentiated into lung epithelial lineages. We performed cell survival analysis, transcriptome and whole exome sequencing analysis on both patient-derived cell lines and cancer cell lines to assess differential metformin response and identify response genes. We found differences in response to metformin treatment across a variety of cell lines and cellular contexts, suggesting that heterogeneity may be patient- and cell type-specific. Gene expression profiling and analysis of metformin-sensitive and metformin-resistant cells identified differentially expressed genes that may be able to stratify patients into metformin responders and non-responders. Sequencing analysis found genomic alterations that correlated with metformin response. These results suggest that the identification of genomic biomarkers for patients who may respond to metformin treatment can provide an opportunity for individualizing metformin chemoprevention in the clinical setting.
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