The Potential Protective Action of Vitamin D in Hepatic Insulin Resistance and Pancreatic Islet Dysfunction in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Nutrients. 2016 Mar 5;8(3):147. doi: 10.3390/nu8030147.


Vitamin D deficiency (i.e., hypovitaminosis D) is associated with increased insulin resistance, impaired insulin secretion, and poorly controlled glucose homeostasis, and thus is correlated with the risk of metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The liver plays key roles in glucose and lipid metabolism, and its dysregulation leads to abnormalities in hepatic glucose output and triglyceride accumulation. Meanwhile, the pancreatic islets are constituted in large part by insulin-secreting β cells. Consequently, islet dysfunction, such as occurs in T2DM, produces hyperglycemia. In this review, we provide a critical appraisal of the modulatory actions of vitamin D in hepatic insulin sensitivity and islet insulin secretion, and we discuss the potential roles of a local vitamin D signaling in regulating hepatic and pancreatic islet functions. This information provides a scientific basis for establishing the benefits of the maintenance, or dietary manipulation, of adequate vitamin D status in the prevention and management of obesity-induced T2DM and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Keywords: HepG2; calcitriol; glucose homeostasis; hypovitaminosis D; insulin secretion; lipid metabolism.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Islets of Langerhans / physiopathology
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver / physiopathology
  • Protective Factors
  • Risk Factors
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vitamin D / metabolism*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / metabolism*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / physiopathology


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Vitamin D