Insulin resistance: Potential role of the endogenous nitric oxide synthase inhibitor ADMA

Karsten Sydow, Carl E. Mondon, John P. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


The insulin resistance syndrome (IRS) is considered to be a new target of risk-reduction therapy. The IRS is a cluster of closely associated and interdependent abnormalities and clinical outcomes that occur more commonly in insulin-resistant/hyperinsulinemic individuals. This syndrome predisposes individuals to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, essential hypertension, certain forms of cancer, polycystic ovary syndrome, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and sleep apnea. In patients at high risk for cardiovascular diseases, endothelial dysfunction is observed in morphologically intact vessels even before the onset of clinically manifest vascular disease. Indeed, there are several lines of evidence that indicate that endothelial function is compromised in situations where there is reduced sensitivity to endogenous insulin. It is well established that a decreased bioavailability of nitric oxide (NO) contributes to endothelial dysfunction. Furthermore, NO may modulate insulin sensitivity. Activation of NO synthase (NOS) augments blood flow to insulin-sensitive tissues (i.e. skeletal muscle, liver, adipose tissue), and its activity is impaired in insulin resistance. Inhibition of NOS reduces the microvascular delivery of nutrients and blunts insulin-stimulated glucose uptake in skeletal muscle. Furthermore, induction of hypertension by administration of the NOS inhibitor NG-monomethyl-L-arginine is also associated with insulin resistance in rats. Increased levels of asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) are associated with endothelial vasodilator dysfunction and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. An intriguing relationship exists between insulin resistance and ADMA. Plasma levels of ADMA are positively correlated with insulin resistance in nondiabetic, normotensive people. New basic research insights that provide possible mechanisms underlying the development of insulin resistance in the setting of impaired NO bioavailability will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S35-S43
JournalVascular Medicine
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - 2005


  • Asymmetric dimethylarginine
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase
  • Endothelium
  • Glucose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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