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Diabetes Manag (Lond). 2012 May;2(3):243-257.

Sirtuin biology and relevance to diabetes treatment.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, 635 Barnhill Drive, MS1021D, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA; Tel.: +1 317 278 1097; ;


Sirtuins are a group of NAD(+)-dependent enzymes that post-translationally modify histones and other proteins. Among seven mammalian sirtuins, SIRT1 has been the most extensively studied and has been demonstrated to play a critical role in all major metabolic organs and tissues. SIRT1 regulates glucose and lipid homeostasis in the liver, modulates insulin secretion in pancreatic islets, controls insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in skeletal muscle, increases adiponectin expression in white adipose tissue and controls food intake and energy expenditure in the brain. Recently, SIRT3 has been demonstrated to modulate insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle and systemic metabolism, and Sirt3-null mice manifest characteristics of metabolic syndrome on a high-fat diet. Thus, it is reasonable to believe that enhancing the activities of SIRT1 and SIRT3 may be beneficial for Type 2 diabetes. Although it is controversial, the SIRT1 activator SRT1720 has been reported to be effective in improving glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity in animal models. More research needs to be conducted so that we can better understand the physiological functions and molecular mechanisms of sirtuins in order to therapeutically target these enzymes for diabetes treatment.

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