Role of dietary proteins and amino acids in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance

Annu Rev Nutr. 2007;27:293-310. doi: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.25.050304.092545.


Dietary proteins and amino acids are important modulators of glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Although high intake of dietary proteins has positive effects on energy homeostasis by inducing satiety and possibly increasing energy expenditure, it has detrimental effects on glucose homeostasis by promoting insulin resistance and increasing gluconeogenesis. Varying the quality rather than the quantity of proteins has been shown to modulate insulin resistance induced by Western diets and has revealed that proteins derived from fish might have the most desirable effects on insulin sensitivity. In vitro and in vivo data also support an important role of amino acids in glucose homeostasis through modulation of insulin action on muscle glucose transport and hepatic glucose production, secretion of insulin and glucagon, as well as gene and protein expression in various tissues. Moreover, amino acid signaling is integrated by mammalian target of rapamycin, a nutrient sensor that operates a negative feedback loop toward insulin receptor substrate 1 signaling, promoting insulin resistance for glucose metabolism. This integration suggests that modulating dietary proteins and the flux of circulating amino acids generated by their consumption and digestion might underlie powerful new approaches to treat various metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Amino Acids / physiology*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / adverse effects
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Gluconeogenesis / drug effects*
  • Gluconeogenesis / physiology
  • Homeostasis / drug effects
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Satiation / drug effects
  • Satiation / physiology


  • Amino Acids
  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Proteins