The role of uncoupling protein 2 in the development of type 2 diabetes

Drugs Today (Barc). 2003 Apr;39(4):287-95. doi: 10.1358/dot.2003.39.4.737960.


Uncoupling proteins (UCP) are carriers expressed in the mitochondrial inner membrane that uncouple oxygen consumption by the respiratory chain from ATP synthesis. UCP2 is a member of the multigenic UCP family that is expressed in a wide range of tissues and organs. Possible functions of UCP2 include control of ATP synthesis, regulation of fatty acid metabolism and control of reactive oxygen species production. UCP2 expression in tissues involved in lipid and energy metabolism and mapping of the gene to a region linked to obesity and hyperinsulinemia prompted studies on the involvement of UCP2 in metabolic disorders, and especially in type 2 diabetes. In human adipose tissue and skeletal muscle, UCP2 expression is increased during fasting. The carrier was shown to be under the control of fatty acids and thyroid hormones in vivo. An upregulation has been observed in the liver during high-fat feeding and obesity. However, data in UCP2 gene knockout mice do not support a role for UCP2 in steatohepatitis. The most compelling metabolic role of UCP2 comes from studies in pancreatic beta cells. Overexpression in isolated pancreatic islets results in decreased ATP content and blunted glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. UCP2-deficient mice show an increased ATP level and an enhanced insulin secretion. Lack of UCP2 dramatically improves insulin secretion and decreases hyperglycemia in leptin-deficient mice. The role of UCP2 in the control of insulin secretion constitutes, to date, the most pertinent path to investigate in a therapeutic perspective.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Ion Channels
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Proteins*
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Uncoupling Protein 2


  • Ion Channels
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Proteins
  • UCP2 protein, human
  • Ucp2 protein, mouse
  • Uncoupling Protein 2