The role of muscle insulin resistance in the pathogenesis of atherogenic dyslipidemia and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease associated with the metabolic syndrome

Annu Rev Nutr. 2010 Aug 21:30:273-90. doi: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.012809.104726.


The metabolic syndrome is a clustering of cardiovascular risk factors, including insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia, and hypertension, and is associated with other comorbidities such as a proinflammatory state and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Its prevalence is high, especially among developed countries, and mainly reflects overnutrition and sedentary lifestyle. Moreover, the developing countries are not spared, as obesity and its related problems such as the metabolic syndrome are increasing quickly. We review the potential primary role of skeletal muscle insulin resistance in the pathophysiology of the metabolic syndrome, showing that in lean, young, insulin-resistant individuals, impaired muscle glucose transport and glycogen synthesis redirect energy derived from carbohydrate into hepatic de novo lipogenesis, promoting the development of atherogenic dyslipidemia and NAFLD. The demonstration of a link between skeletal muscle insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome offers opportunities in targeting early defects in muscle insulin action in order to counteract the development of the disease and its related complications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arteriosclerosis / metabolism
  • Dyslipidemias / metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*


  • Insulin