This study aimed to investigate the in vivo relevance of P-glycoprotein (P-gp) in the pharmacokinetics and adverse effect of phenformin. To investigate the involvement of P-gp in the transport of phenformin, a bi-directional transport of phenformin was carried out in LLC-PK1 cells overexpressing P-gp, LLC-PK1-Pgp. Basal to apical transport of phenformin was 3.9-fold greater than apical to basal transport and became saturated with increasing phenformin concentration (
) in LLC-PK1-Pgp, suggesting the involvement of P-gp in phenformin transport. Intrinsic clearance mediated by P-gp was
while passive diffusion clearance was
. Thus, P-gp contributed more to phenformin transport than passive diffusion. To investigate the contribution of P-gp on the pharmacokinetics and adverse effect of phenformin, the effects of verapamil, a P-gp inhibitor, on the pharmacokinetics of phenformin were also examined in rats. The plasma concentrations of phenformin were increased following oral administration of phenformin and intravenous verapamil infusion compared with those administerd phenformin alone. Pharmacokinetic parameters such as
and AUC of phenformin increased and CL/F and Vss/F decreased as a consequence of verapamil treatment. These results suggested that P-gp blockade by verapamil may decrease the phenformin disposition and increase plasma phenformin concentrations. P-gp inhibition by verapamil treatment also increased plasma lactate concentration, which is a crucial adverse event of phenformin. In conclusion, P-gp may play an important role in phenformin transport process and, therefore, contribute to the modulation of pharmacokinetics of phenformin and onset of plasma lactate level.