The PI3K/AKT pathway in obesity and type 2 diabetes

Int J Biol Sci. 2018 Aug 6;14(11):1483-1496. doi: 10.7150/ijbs.27173. eCollection 2018.


Obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus are complicated metabolic diseases that affect multiple organs and are characterized by hyperglycaemia. Currently, stable and effective treatments for obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus are not available. Therefore, the mechanisms leading to obesity and diabetes and more effective ways to treat obesity and diabetes should be identified. Based on accumulated evidences, the PI3K/AKT signalling pathway is required for normal metabolism due to its characteristics, and its imbalance leads to the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. This review focuses on the role of PI3K/AKT signalling in the skeletal muscle, adipose tissue, liver, brain and pancreas, and discusses how this signalling pathway affects the development of the aforementioned diseases. We also summarize evidences for recently identified therapeutic targets of the PI3K/AKT pathway as treatments for obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. PI3K/AKT pathway damaged in various tissues of the body leads to obesity and type 2 diabetes as the result of insulin resistance, and in turn, insulin resistance exacerbates the PI3K/AKT pathway, forming a vicious circle.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / genetics
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / genetics
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt