Apelin, diabetes, and obesity

Endocrine. 2011 Aug;40(1):1-9. doi: 10.1007/s12020-011-9507-9.


Apelin is a peptide known as the ligand of the G-protein-coupled receptor APJ. Several active apelin forms exist such as apelin-36, apelin-17, apelin-13, and the pyroglutamated form of apelin-13. Apelin and APJ are expressed in the central nervous system, particularly in the hypothalamus and in many peripheral tissues. Apelin has been shown to be involved in the regulation of cardiovascular and fluid homeostasis, food intake, cell proliferation, and angiogenesis. In addition to be an ubiquitous peptide, apelin is also produced and secreted by adipocytes and thus considered as an adipokine. This has opened a new field of investigation establishing a link between apelin and metabolic disorders (obesity, type 2 diabetes, etc.) which is the focus of the present review. Several studies, but not all, have reported an increase of plasma apelin concentrations in humans and in animal models with different metabolic pathologies. Moreover, important roles for apelin both in glucose and lipid metabolism have been highlighted as well as the associated signaling pathways. Apelin appears as a beneficial adipokine with anti-obesity and anti-diabetic properties and thus as a promising therapeutic target in metabolic disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / physiology
  • Animals
  • Apelin
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / physiology*
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology
  • Mice
  • Obesity / physiopathology*


  • APLN protein, human
  • Adipokines
  • Apelin
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Glucose