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JNK at the crossroad of obesity, insulin resistance, and cell stress response

Review article
Authors Giovanni Solinas
Barbara Becattini
Published in Molecular Metabolism
Volume 6
Issue 2
ISSN 2212-8778
Publication year 2017
Published at Wallenberg Laboratory
Institute of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine
Language en
Keywords Oxidative stress, Endoplasmic eeticulum stress, Autophagy, MAPK, Diabetes, Inflammation, n-terminal kinase, pancreatic beta-cells, endoplasmic-reticulum stress, jun nh2-terminal kinase, saturated fatty-acids, extends life-span, glycogen-synthase kinase-3, bax-dependent apoptosis, necrosis-factor-alpha, diet-induced obesity, Endocrinology & Metabolism
Subject categories Endocrinology and Diabetes


Background: The cJun-N-terminal-kinase (JNK) plays a central role in the cell stress response, with outcomes ranging from cell death to cell proliferation and survival, depending on the specific context. JNK is also one of the most investigated signal transducers in obesity and insulin resistance, and studies have identified new molecular mechanisms linking obesity and insulin resistance. Emerging evidence indicates that whereas JNK1 and JNK2 isoforms promote the development of obesity and insulin resistance, JNK3 activity protects from excessive adiposity. Furthermore, current evidence indicates that JNK activity within specific cell types may, in specific stages of disease progression, promote cell tolerance to the stress associated with obesity and type-2 diabetes. Scope of review: This review provides an overview of the current literature on the role of JNK in the progression from obesity to insulin resistance, NAFLD, type-2 diabetes, and diabetes complications. Major conclusion: Whereas current evidence indicates that JNK1/2 inhibition may improve insulin sensitivity in obesity, the role of JNK in the progression from insulin resistance to diabetes, and its complications is largely unresolved. A better understanding of the role of JNK in the stress response to obesity and type-2 diabetes, and the development of isoform-specific inhibitors with specific tissue distribution will be necessary to exploit JNK as possible drug target for the treatment of type-2 diabetes. (C) 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier GmbH. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

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