Revisiting the diacylglycerol-induced insulin resistance hypothesis

Obes Rev. 2012 Dec;13 Suppl 2:40-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2012.01036.x.


Obesity is associated with skeletal muscle insulin resistance, which is a crucial step in the development of type 2 diabetes. Among the mechanisms by which obesity may lead to insulin resistance, lipotoxicity is one of the hypotheses being explored; others include inflammation or the oxidative stress hypotheses. This review focuses on the role of diacylglycerols (DAG), a family of lipid metabolites implicated in the pathogenesis of lipotoxicity and insulin resistance. While recent studies report contradictory results in humans with regard to the importance of DAG-induced insulin resistance in skeletal muscle, other current literature highlight a potential role for DAG as signalling molecules. This review will discuss possible hypotheses explaining these contradictory results and the need to explore further the role of DAG in human metabolism.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diglycerides / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin / physiology
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Diglycerides
  • Insulin