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International Journal of Experimental Diabetes Research
Volume 3 (2002), Issue 1, Pages 47-60

D-Chiro-Inositol – Its Functional Role in Insulin Action and its Deficit in Insulin Resistance

1Department of Pharmacology, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA
2Insmed Inc., PO Box 2400, Glen Allen,, VA 23058, USA

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In this review we discuss the biological significance of D-chiro-inositol, originally discovered as a component of a putative mediator of intracellular insulin action, where as a putative mediator, it accelerates the dephosphorylation of glycogen synthase and pyruvate dehydrogenase, rate limiting enzymes of non-oxidative and oxidative glucose disposal.

Early studies demonstrated a linear relationship between its decreased urinary excretion and the degree of insulin resistance present. When tissue contents, including muscle, of type 2 diabetic subjects were assayed, they demonstrated a more general body deficiency. Administration of D-chiro-inositol to diabetic rats, Rhesus monkeys and now to humans accelerated glucose disposal and sensitized insulin action.

A defect in vivo in the epimerization of myoinositol to chiro-inositol in insulin sensitive tissues of the GK type 2 diabetic rat has been elucidated. Thus, administered D-chiro-inositol may act to bypass a defective normal epimerization of myo-inositol to D-chiro-inositol associated with insulin resistance and act to at least partially restore insulin sensitivity and glucose disposal.