Insulin Resistance in Peripheral Tissues and the Brain: A Tale of Two Sites?

Elizabeth M. Rhea, William A. Banks, Jacob Raber

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The concept of insulin resistance has been around since a few decades after the discovery of insulin itself. To allude to the classic Charles Dicken’s novel published 62 years before the discovery of insulin, in some ways, this is the best of times, as the concept of insulin resistance has expanded to include the brain, with the realization that insulin has a life beyond the regulation of glucose. In other ways, it is the worst of times as insulin resistance is implicated in devastating diseases, including diabetes mellitus, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) that affect the brain. Peripheral insulin resistance affects nearly a quarter of the United States population in adults over age 20. More recently, it has been implicated in AD, with the degree of brain insulin resistance cor-relating with cognitive decline. This has led to the investigation of brain or central nervous system (CNS) insulin resistance and the question of the relation between CNS and peripheral insulin re-sistance. While both may involve dysregulated insulin signaling, the two conditions are not identi-cal and not always interlinked. In this review, we compare and contrast the similarities and differences between peripheral and CNS insulin resistance. We also discuss how an apolipoprotein involved in insulin signaling and related to AD, apolipoprotein E (apoE), has distinct pools in the periphery and CNS and can indirectly affect each system. As these systems are both separated but also linked via the blood–brain barrier (BBB), we discuss the role of the BBB in mediating some of the connections between insulin resistance in the brain and in the peripheral tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1582
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • apolipoprotein E
  • central nervous system
  • insulin resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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