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Nutrients. 2016 Jul 29;8(8). pii: E466. doi: 10.3390/nu8080466.

Lipid-Induced Insulin Resistance in Skeletal Muscle: The Chase for the Culprit Goes from Total Intramuscular Fat to Lipid Intermediates, and Finally to Species of Lipid Intermediates.

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CSIRO Health and Biosecurity, Kintore Avenue, Adelaide 5000, SA, Australia.
Division of Livestock and Farming Systems, South Australian Research and Development Institute, J S Davies Bldg, Roseworthy Campus, GPO Box 397, Adelaide 5000, SA, Australia.
CSIRO Health and Biosecurity, Kintore Avenue, Adelaide 5000, SA, Australia.


The skeletal muscle is the largest organ in the body. It plays a particularly pivotal role in glucose homeostasis, as it can account for up to 40% of the body and for up to 80%-90% of insulin-stimulated glucose disposal. Hence, insulin resistance (IR) in skeletal muscle has been a focus of much research and review. The fact that skeletal muscle IR precedes β-cell dysfunction makes it an ideal target for countering the diabetes epidemic. It is generally accepted that the accumulation of lipids in the skeletal muscle, due to dietary lipid oversupply, is closely linked with IR. Our understanding of this link between intramyocellular lipids (IMCL) and glycemic control has changed over the years. Initially, skeletal muscle IR was related to total IMCL. The inconsistencies in this explanation led to the discovery that particular lipid intermediates are more important than total IMCL. The two most commonly cited lipid intermediates for causing skeletal muscle IR are ceramides and diacylglycerol (DAG) in IMCL. Still, not all cases of IR and dysfunction in glycemic control have shown an increase in either or both of these lipids. In this review, we will summarise the latest research results that, using the lipidomics approach, have elucidated DAG and ceramide species that are involved in skeletal muscle IR in animal models and human subjects.


DAG; ceramides; insulin resistance; lipid intermediates; skeletal muscle

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