Effects of phentermine and phenformin on biomarkers of aging in rats.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Caloric restriction (CR) is the only treatment known to substantially prolong both average and maximal life span in experimental animals. Interventions that mimic certain effects of CR could be potential anti-aging treatments in humans. Drugs which reduce appetite (anorexiants) represent one class of candidate treatments. Agents that reduce the glucose utilization by the organism could also represent another class of candidate CR mimetics.


In our study, we addressed the following questions: (1) Does treatment with an anorexiant reduce caloric intake and body weight of experimental animals comparable to that caused by CR? (2) Does treatment with an antidiabetic agent influence caloric intake and body weight? (3) Does treatment with any of these drugs affect metabolic parameters of an organism in the way similar to that observed with CR?


One hundred and twenty 6-month-old female Wistar-derived LIO rats were randomly subdivided into four groups and exposed to: (1) ad libitum feeding with placebo (controls); (2) the antidiabetic drug phenformin (2 mg/kg); (3) the anorectic drug phentermine (1 mg/kg), and (4) the same amount of food as the group with the least food intake during the previous week (pair-fed controls). Food and water intake, body weight, and rectal temperature were measured weekly during 16 weeks. At the end of the 16th week of the experiment, serum levels of glucose, total beta-lipoprotein and pre-beta-lipoprotein fractions, cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, total triiodothyronine, and free thyroxine were estimated. The contents of diene conjugates and Schiff's bases, total antioxidant activity, the activities of Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase, glutathione S-transferase, and glutathione peroxidase, and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) were studied in brain and liver homogenates and in the serum.


The controls exposed to pair feeding had a significantly reduced food consumption (about 20%) as compared with the ad libitum fed controls and thus exhibited a moderate CR. Treatment with phentermine reduced the caloric intake by about 12% as compared with the ad libitum fed controls. Body weight and water intake in this group were only slightly decreased (by about 2 and 5%, respectively) as compared with the controls. The mean rectal temperature in the phentermine group (38 degrees C) was significantly higher than in the ad libitum fed (37.8 degrees C) and pair-fed (37.6 degrees C) controls. Treatment with phentermine also resulted in significantly reduced ROS levels in all tissues studied, while the highest ROS production was found in ad libitum (blood serum) and pair-fed (brain) controls. Treatment with phenformin did not significantly influence food and water consumption, body weight, and temperature when compared with the ad libitum fed controls. Rats treated with this antidiabetic drug showed intermediate values of ROS generation. Differences among the groups in total antioxidant activity were not obvious.


Treatment with phentermine reduces caloric intake slightly less than is commonly observed in CR studies. CR due to forcibly reduced feeding and CR due to substance-suppressed appetite appear to act through different metabolic mechanisms and thus may affect aging and longevity in different ways.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Anisimov, VN; Ukraintseva, SV; Anikin, IV; Popovich, IG; Zabezhinski, MA; Bertsein, LM; Arutjunyan, AV; Ingram, DK; Lane, MA; Roth, GS

Published Date

  • January 2005

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 51 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 19 - 28

PubMed ID

  • 15591752

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1423-0003

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0304-324X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1159/000081430


  • eng