Pharmacological effects of biotin

J Nutr Biochem. 2005 Jul;16(7):424-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2005.03.018.


In the last few decades, more vitamin-mediated effects have been discovered at the level of gene expression. Increasing knowledge on the molecular mechanisms of these vitamins has opened new perspectives that form a connection between nutritional signals and the development of new therapeutic agents. Besides its role as a carboxylase prosthetic group, biotin regulates gene expression and has a wide repertoire of effects on systemic processes. The vitamin regulates genes that are critical in the regulation of intermediary metabolism: Biotin has stimulatory effects on genes whose action favors hypoglycemia (insulin, insulin receptor, pancreatic and hepatic glucokinase); on the contrary, biotin decreases the expression of hepatic phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, a key gluconeogenic enzyme that stimulates glucose production by the liver. The findings that biotin regulates the expression of genes that are critical in the regulation of intermediary metabolism are in agreement with several observations that indicate that biotin supply is involved in glucose and lipid homeostasis. Biotin deficiency has been linked to impaired glucose tolerance and decreased utilization of glucose. On the other hand, the diabetic state appears to be ameliorated by pharmacological doses of biotin. Likewise, pharmacological doses of biotin appear to decrease plasma lipid concentrations and modify lipid metabolism. The effects of biotin on carbohydrate metabolism and the lack of toxic effects of the vitamin at pharmacological doses suggest that biotin could be used in the development of new therapeutics in the treatment of hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia, an area that we are actively investigating.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotin / deficiency
  • Biotin / pharmacology*
  • Enzymes / drug effects
  • Enzymes / genetics
  • Enzymes / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Intolerance
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Receptor, Insulin / drug effects
  • Receptor, Insulin / metabolism


  • Enzymes
  • Biotin
  • Receptor, Insulin
  • Glucose