D-chiro-inositol glycans in insulin signaling and insulin resistance

Mol Med. Nov-Dec 2010;16(11-12):543-52. doi: 10.2119/molmed.2010.00107. Epub 2010 Aug 27.


Classical actions of insulin involve increased glucose uptake from the bloodstream and its metabolism in peripheral tissues, the most important and relevant effects for human health. However, nonoxidative and oxidative glucose disposal by activation of glycogen synthase (GS) and mitochondrial pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) remain incompletely explained by current models for insulin action. Since the discovery of insulin receptor Tyr kinase activity about 25 years ago, the dominant paradigm for intracellular signaling by insulin invokes protein phosphorylation downstream of the receptor and its primary Tyr phosphorylated substrates-the insulin receptor substrate family of proteins. This scheme accounts for most, but not all, intracellular actions of insulin. Essentially forgotten is the previous literature and continuing work on second messengers generated in cells in response to insulin. Treatment and even prevention of diabetes and metabolic syndrome will benefit from a more complete elucidation of cellular-signaling events activated by insulin, to include the actions of second messengers such as glycan molecules that contain D-chiro-inositol (DCI). The metabolism of DCI is associated with insulin sensitivity and resistance, supporting the concept that second messengers have a role in responses to and resistance to insulin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Glycogen Synthase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inositol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Inositol / analysis
  • Inositol / chemistry*
  • Inositol / metabolism
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phosphorylation
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism*
  • Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex / metabolism*
  • Receptor, Insulin / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Insulin
  • Polysaccharides
  • Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex
  • inositol-glycan
  • Inositol
  • Glycogen Synthase
  • Receptor, Insulin