, Volume 57, Issue 6, pp 1087-1099
Date: 28 Mar 2014

Myokines in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes


Skeletal muscle represents the largest organ of the body in non-obese individuals and is now considered to be an active endocrine organ releasing a host of so-called myokines. These myokines are part of a complex network that mediates communication between muscle, the liver, adipose tissue, the brain and other organs. Recent data suggest that myokines regulated by muscle contraction may play a key role in mediating the health-promoting effects of regular physical activity. Although hundreds of myokines have recently been described in proteomic studies, we currently have a rather limited knowledge of the specific role these myokines play in the prevention of insulin resistance, inflammation and associated metabolic dysfunction. Several myokines are known to have both local and endocrine functions, but in many cases the contribution of physical activity to the systemic level of these molecules remains as yet unexplored. Very recently, novel myokines such as irisin, which is thought to induce a white to brown shift in adipocytes, have gained considerable interest as potential therapeutic targets. In this review, we summarise the most recent findings on the role of myokines in the regulation of substrate metabolism and insulin sensitivity. We further explore the role of myokines in the regulation of inflammation and provide a critical assessment of irisin and other myokines regarding their potential as therapeutic targets.