International Union of Pharmacology. LXXI. Free fatty acid receptors FFA1, -2, and -3: pharmacology and pathophysiological functions

Pharmacol Rev. 2008 Dec;60(4):405-17. doi: 10.1124/pr.108.00802. Epub 2008 Dec 1.


Identification of G protein-coupled receptors that are activated by free fatty acids has led to considerable interest in their pharmacology and function because of the wide range of normal physiology and disease states in which fatty acids have been implicated. Free fatty acid receptor (FFA) 1 is activated by medium- to long-chain fatty acids and is expressed in the insulin-producing beta-cells of the pancreas. Activation of FFA1 has been proposed to mediate fatty acid augmentation of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion although it is unclear whether the known long-term detrimental effects of beta-cell exposure to high levels of fatty acids are also mediated through this receptor. The related receptors FFA2 and FFA3 are both activated by short-chain fatty acids although they have key differences in the signaling pathways they activate and tissue expression pattern. The aim of this review is to provide a comprehensive overview of the current understanding of the pharmacology and physiological role of these fatty acid receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / agonists
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / agonists
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • FFA2R protein, human
  • FFAR1 protein, human
  • FFAR3 protein, human
  • Ffar1 protein, mouse
  • Ffar2 protein, mouse
  • Gpcr41 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled