The use of rapamycin to extend lifespan and delay age-related disease in mice is well-established despite its potential to impair glucose metabolism which is driven partially due to increased hepatic gluconeogenesis. We tested whether a combination therapeutic approach using rapamycin and metformin could diminish some of the known metabolic defects caused by rapamycin treatment in mice. In genetically heterogeneous HET3 mice, we found that chronic administration of encapsulated rapamycin by diet caused a measurable defect in glucose metabolism in both male and female mice as early as 1 month after treatment. In female mice, this defect was alleviated over time by simultaneous treatment with metformin, also by diet, such that females treated with both drugs where indistinguishable from control mice during glucose tolerance tests. While rapamycin-mediated glucose intolerance was unaffected by metformin in males, we found metformin prevented rapamycin-mediated reduction in insulin and leptin concentrations following 9 months of co-treatment. Recently, the Interventions Testing Program showed that mice treated with metformin and rapamycin live at least as long as those treated with rapamycin alone. Together, our data provide compelling evidence that the pro-longevity effects of rapamycin can be uncoupled from its detrimental effects on metabolism through combined therapeutic approaches.
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