The endothelial cell: an "early responder" in the development of insulin resistance

Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2013 Mar;14(1):21-7. doi: 10.1007/s11154-012-9232-6.


Vascular endothelium is an important insulin target and plays a pivotal role in the development of metabolic insulin resistance provoked by the Western lifestyle. It acts as a "first-responder" to environmental stimuli such as nutrients, cytokines, chemokines and physical activity and regulates insulin delivery to muscle and adipose tissue and thereby affecting insulin-mediated glucose disposal by these tissues. In addition, it also regulates the delivery of insulin and other appetite regulating signals from peripheral tissues to the central nervous system thus influencing the activity of nuclei that regulate hepatic glucose production, adipose tissue lipolysis and lipogenesis, as well as food consumption. Resistance to insulin's vascular actions therefore broadly impacts tissue function and contribute to metabolic dysregulation. Moreover, vascular insulin resistance negatively impacts vascular health by affecting blood pressure regulation, vessel wall inflammation and atherogenesis thereby contributing to the burden of vascular disease seen with diabetes and metabolic syndrome. In the current review, we examined the evidence that supports the general concept of vascular endothelium as a target of insulin action and discussed the biochemical and physiological consequences of vascular insulin resistance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Models, Biological


  • Insulin