Chronic insulin treatment causes insulin resistance in 3T3-L1 adipocytes through oxidative stress

Free Radic Res. 2008 Jun;42(6):582-91. doi: 10.1080/10715760802158448.


Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia are commonly present in obesity and pre-diabetes, and hyperinsulinemia is both a marker and a cause for insulin resistance. However, the molecular link between hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance remains elusive. The present study examined the effect of chronic insulin treatment on the reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, insulin signalling and insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. The results showed that chronic insulin treatment significantly increased the intracellular generation of superoxide anion, hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radical. ROS induced by chronic insulin treatment inhibited insulin signalling and glucose uptake, induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and JNK activation. Furthermore, these effects were reversed by antioxidants N-acetylcysteine, superoxide dismutase or catalase. These results suggested that ROS, ER stress and JNK pathway are involved in insulin resistance induced by chronic insulin treatment. Therefore, oxidative stress could be a potential interventional target for hyperinsulinemia-induced insulin resistance and related diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Acetylcysteine / metabolism
  • Adipocytes / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 4 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species


  • Antioxidants
  • Insulin
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Catalase
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 4
  • Glucose
  • Acetylcysteine