© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.The metabolic syndrome (MetS) and pathologies associated with metabolic dysregulations a worldwide growing problem. Our previous study demonstrated that pioglitazone (PGZ) has beneficial effects on metabolic syndrome associated disturbances in the heart. However, mechanism mediating the molecular alterations of Ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) and autophagy has not been investigated in rat pancreas with metabolic syndrome. For this reason, we first aimed to detect whether MetS effects on the expression of UPS (p97/VCP, SVIP, Ubiquitin) and autophagic (p62, LC3) proteins in rat pancreas. The second aim of the study was to find impact of pioglitazone on the expression of UPS and autophagic proteins in MetS rat pancreas. To answer these questions, metabolic syndrome induced rats were used as a model and treated with pioglitazone for 2 weeks. Pancreatic tissue injuries, fibrosis and lipid accumulation were evaluated histopathologically in control, MetS and MetS-PGZ groups. Apoptosis and cell proliferation of pancreatic islet cells were assessed in all groups. UPS and autophagic protein expressions of pancreas in all groups were detected by using immunohistochemistry, double-immunfluorescence and Western blotting. Compared with the controls, the rat fed with high sucrose exhibited signs of metabolic syndrome, such as higher body weight, insulin resistance, higher triglyceride level and hyperglycaemia. MetS rats showed pancreatic tissue degeneration, fibrosis and lipid accumulation when their pancreas were examined with Hematoxilen-eozin and Mallory trichrome staining. Metabolic, histopathologic parameters and cell proliferation showed greater improvement in MetS-PGZ rats and pioglitazone decreased apoptosis of islet cells. Moreover, SVIP, ubiquitin, LC3 and p62 expressions were significantly increased while only p97/VCP expression was significantly decreased in MetS-rat pancreas compared to control. PGZ treatment significantly decreased the MetS-induced increases in autophagy markers. Additionally, UPS and autophagy markers were found to colocalizated with insulin and glucagon. Colocalization ratio of UPS markers with insulin showed significant decrease in MetS rats and PGZ increased this ratio, whereas LC3-insulin colocalization displayed significant increase in MetS rats and PGZ reversed this effect. In conclusion, PGZ improved the pancreatic tissue degeneration by increasing the level of p97/VCP and decreasing autophagic proteins, SVIP and ubiquitin expressions in MetS-rats. Moreover, PGZ has an effect on the colocalization ratio of UPS and autophagy markers with insulin.