Tanshinone I alleviates insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes mellitus rats through IRS-1 pathway

Biomed Pharmacother. 2017 Sep;93:352-358. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2017.06.040. Epub 2017 Jun 24.


Tanshinone I from tanshen has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for treating cardiovascular diseases and inflammatory diseases. Given the link between inflammation and Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), we suspect that tanshinone I may have a beneficial effect on T2DM. This study was to investigate the potential effects of tanshinone I on T2DM and its underlying mechanism. T2DM was thus induced in Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats using streptozotocin (STZ) and high-fat diet. It was observed that T2DM rats had higher levels of total cholesterol (TC), nonesterified fatty acids (NEFAs), total triglyceride (TG) and total low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) compared with normal, healthy SD rats. Treatment with tanshinone I decreased these levels and lowered blood glucose level in T2DM rats. In addition, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) analysis showed that T2DM rats had elevated levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). Furthermore, Western blot analysis revealed that T2DM rats had enhanced nuclear translocation of NF-κB as well as elevated phosphorylation of Ser307 in IRS-1(insulin receptor substrate 1). Treatment by tanshinone I lowered the levels of IL-6 and TNF-α, decreased nuclear translocation of NF-κB as well as phosphorylation of Ser307 in IRS-1. These results demonstrated that tanshinone I could alleviate T2DM syndrome in rats.

Keywords: IRS-1; Tanshinone I; insulin resistance; type 2 diabetes.

MeSH terms

  • Abietanes / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / chemically induced
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Insulin Receptor Substrate Proteins / metabolism*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional / methods
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Streptozocin / pharmacology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Abietanes
  • Insulin Receptor Substrate Proteins
  • Interleukin-6
  • Irs1 protein, rat
  • NF-kappa B
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • tanshinone
  • Streptozocin