Uncoupling protein-2: evidence for its function as a metabolic regulator

Diabetologia. 2002 Feb;45(2):174-87. doi: 10.1007/s00125-001-0737-x.


Uncoupling protein-2, discovered in 1997, belongs to a family of inner mitochondrial membrane proteins that, in general, function as carriers. The function(s) of uncoupling protein-2 have not yet been definitively described. However, mounting evidence suggests that uncoupling protein-2 could act in multiple tissues as a regulator of lipid metabolism. A role as a modulator of reactive oxygen species as a defence against infection is also postulated. In this review, a brief overview of the general and specific properties of uncoupling protein-2 is given and evidence for metabolic and immune regulatory functions is summarized. Uncoupling protein-2 could have particular importance in the regulation of lipid metabolism in adipose tissue and skeletal muscle. In addition, its ability to inhibit insulin secretion could also promote fat utilization over storage. Inhibition by uncoupling protein-2 of reactive oxygen species formation in macrophages and other tissues could have implications for regulation of immune function. The possibility of functions of uncoupling protein-2 in other tissues such as the brain are beginning to emerge.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Metabolic Diseases / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins*
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Uncoupling Agents / metabolism
  • Uncoupling Protein 2


  • Ion Channels
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Proteins
  • UCP2 protein, human
  • Uncoupling Agents
  • Uncoupling Protein 2