Objective: Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) has emerged as an important metabolic regulator of glucose and lipid metabolism. The aims of the current study are to evaluate the role of FGF21 in energy metabolism and to provide mechanistic insights into its glucose and lipid-lowering effects in a high-fat diet-induced obesity (DIO) model.
Research design and methods: DIO or normal lean mice were treated with vehicle or recombinant murine FGF21. Metabolic parameters including body weight, glucose, and lipid levels were monitored, and hepatic gene expression was analyzed. Energy metabolism and insulin sensitivity were assessed using indirect calorimetry and hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp techniques.
Results: FGF21 dose dependently reduced body weight and whole-body fat mass in DIO mice due to marked increases in total energy expenditure and physical activity levels. FGF21 also reduced blood glucose, insulin, and lipid levels and reversed hepatic steatosis. The profound reduction of hepatic triglyceride levels was associated with FGF21 inhibition of nuclear sterol regulatory element binding protein-1 and the expression of a wide array of genes involved in fatty acid and triglyceride synthesis. FGF21 also dramatically improved hepatic and peripheral insulin sensitivity in both lean and DIO mice independently of reduction in body weight and adiposity.
Conclusions: FGF21 corrects multiple metabolic disorders in DIO mice and has the potential to become a powerful therapeutic to treat hepatic steatosis, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.