The mammalian tribbles homolog TRIB3, glucose homeostasis, and cardiovascular diseases

Endocr Rev. 2012 Aug;33(4):526-46. doi: 10.1210/er.2011-1042. Epub 2012 May 10.


Insulin signaling plays a physiological role in traditional insulin target tissues controlling glucose homeostasis as well as in pancreatic β-cells and in the endothelium. Insulin signaling abnormalities may, therefore, be pathogenic for insulin resistance, impaired insulin secretion, endothelial dysfunction, and eventually, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and cardiovascular disease. Tribbles homolog 3 (TRIB3) is a 45-kDa pseudokinase binding to and inhibiting Akt, a key mediator of insulin signaling. Akt-mediated effects of TRIB3 in the liver, pancreatic β-cells, and skeletal muscle result in impaired glucose homeostasis. TRIB3 effects are also modulated by its direct interaction with other signaling molecules. In humans, TRIB3 overactivity, due to TRIB3 overexpression or to Q84R genetic polymorphism, with R84 being a gain-of-function variant, may be involved in shaping the risk of insulin resistance, T2DM, and cardiovascular disease. TRIB3 overexpression has been observed in the liver, adipose tissue, skeletal muscle, and pancreatic β-cells of individuals with insulin resistance and/or T2DM. The R84 variant has also proved to be associated with insulin resistance, T2DM, and cardiovascular disease. TRIB3 direct effects on the endothelium might also play a role in increasing the risk of atherosclerosis, as indicated by studies on human endothelial cells carrying the R84 variant that are dysfunctional in terms of Akt activation, NO production, and other proatherogenic changes. In conclusion, studies on TRIB3 have unraveled new molecular mechanisms underlying metabolic and cardiovascular abnormalities. Additional investigations are needed to verify whether such acquired knowledge will be relevant for improving care delivery to patients with metabolic and cardiovascular alterations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucose Metabolism Disorders / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Insulin
  • Repressor Proteins
  • TRIB3 protein, human
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Glucose