Mitophagy in Hepatic Insulin Resistance: Therapeutic Potential and Concerns

Front Pharmacol. 2019 Oct 10;10:1193. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2019.01193. eCollection 2019.


Metabolic syndrome, characterized by central obesity, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia, increases the morbidity and mortality of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and other metabolic diseases. It is well known that insulin resistance, especially hepatic insulin resistance, is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome. Current research has shown that hepatic fatty acid accumulation can cause hepatic insulin resistance through increased gluconeogenesis, lipogenesis, chronic inflammation, oxidative stress and endoplasmic reticulum stress, and impaired insulin signal pathway. Mitochondria are the major sites of fatty acid β-oxidation, which is the major degradation mechanism of fatty acids. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been shown to be involved in the development of hepatic fatty acid-induced hepatic insulin resistance. Mitochondrial autophagy (mitophagy), a catabolic process, selectively degrades damaged mitochondria to reverse mitochondrial dysfunction and preserve mitochondrial dynamics and function. Therefore, mitophagy can promote mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation to inhibit hepatic fatty acid accumulation and improve hepatic insulin resistance. Here, we review advances in our understanding of the relationship between mitophagy and hepatic insulin resistance. Additionally, we also highlight the potential value of mitophagy in the treatment of hepatic insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

Keywords: hepatic fatty acid accumulation; hepatic insulin resistance; metabolic syndrome; mitochondrial dysfunction; mitophagy.

Publication types

  • Review