Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), the most common form of diabetes, is characterized by insulin resistance in the hepatic and peripheral tissues. Glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) plays a major role in the pathophysiology of T2DM. Its defective expression or translocation to the peripheral cell plasma membrane in T2DM patients hinders the entrance of glucose into the cell for energy production. In addition to suitable drugs, an appropriate diet and/or exercise can be implemented to target the increase in GLUT4 expression, GLUT4 concentrations and GLUT4 translocation to the cell surface when managing the glucose metabolism of T2DM patients. In this review, we discussed successful intervention strategies that were individually administered or coupled with diet and/or exercise and affected the expression and translocation of GLUT4 in T2DM while reducing the excess glucose load from the blood. Additionally, some potentially good synthetic and natural compounds, which can activate the insulin-independent GLUT4 signaling pathways for the efficient management of T2DM, are highlighted as possible targets or emerging alternative sources for future anti-diabetic drug development.
Keywords: Type 2 diabetes mellitus, GLUT4, intervention, exercise, diet, natural compounds.