Is mitochondrial dysfunction a cause of insulin resistance?

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Nov;19(9):324-30. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2008.08.001. Epub 2008 Sep 17.


Insulin resistance is a key defect associated with obesity and type-2 diabetes. The precise factors that lead to insulin resistance have not been elucidated fully, but there is a strong association between insulin resistance and inappropriate lipid accumulation in insulin-target tissues. Over the past decade, several studies have reported changes in markers of mitochondrial metabolism in insulin-resistant individuals. These observations have led to the theory that compromised mitochondrial oxidative function, particularly in skeletal muscle, causes excess lipid deposition and the development of insulin resistance. Here, we review the latest findings regarding the link between mitochondrial metabolism and insulin action and, in particular, highlight several recent studies that call into question the cause-and-effect relationship between mitochondrial dysfunction and insulin resistance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / metabolism
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology