DCA and diabetes

Observe that a number of DCA derivatives are being studied as potential treatments. Why not just use NaDCA? Once again, money takes precedence over human misery, and attempts to find a solution are suppressed because only continued medical care brings in money.


  1. 1.  Peter W Stacpoole, PHD, MD and
  2. 2.  Yvonne J Greene, BA

+ Author Affiliations

  1.   Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Medicine (Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism), University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida 32610
  1. Write to Dr. Peter W. Stacpoole at University of Florida, College of Medicine, Box 100226, Gainesville, FL 32610 with any correspondence or reprint requests.


A possibly new family of oral diabetes medications called dichloroacetate (DCA) lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels without increasing insulin secretion. By preventing hepatic glucose production and promoting glucose clearance and use by peripheral tissues, DCA lowers blood sugar levels. Pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH), the rate-limiting enzyme of aerobic glucose oxidation, is one of the drug’s main sites of action. When PDH is stimulated by DCA, peripheral alanine and lactate oxidation increases, interrupting the Cori and alanine cycles and decreasing the amount of three-carbon precursors for gluconeogenesis that are available. In experimental models of ketosis, DCA drastically lowers blood glucose while reducing both ketonemia and ketonuria.

Hepatic triglyceride and cholesterol production is suppressed by DCA. Short-term tests on people with non-insulin-dependent diabetes have shown that the medication has the ability to significantly lower levels of circulating very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides. Oral treatment of DCA dramatically lowers insulin needs and blood levels of glucose and lipids in hereditary models of insulin-dependent diabetes.

It has been discovered that some DCA derivatives exhibit biological activity in animals after being produced. If DCA and its equivalents are safe and useful medications for long-term management of the lipid and carbohydrate imbalances in human diabetes, more research is needed to confirm this.


Copyright © 1992 by the American Diabetes Association

Link to article

DCA Effects f Glucose and Fat Metabolism in normal and diabetic tissue