Obesity and related metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia are an increasingly prevalent medical and social problem in developed and developing countries. These conditions are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death. Therefore, it is important to understand the molecular basis underlying obesity and related metabolic diseases in order to develop effective preventive and therapeutic approaches against these conditions. Recently, a family of proteins structurally similar to the angiogenic-regulating factors known as angiopoietins was identified and designated 'angiopoietin-like proteins' (ANGPTLs). Encoded by seven genes, ANGPTL1-7 all possess an N-terminal coiled-coil domain and a C-terminal fibrinogen-like domain, both characteristic of angiopoietins. ANGPTLs do not bind to either the angiopoietin receptor Tie2 or the related protein Tie1, indicating that these ligands function differently from angiopoietins. Like angiopoietins, some ANGPTLs potently regulate angiogenesis, but ANGPTL3, -4 and ANGPTL6/angiopoietin-related growth factor (AGF) directly regulate lipid, glucose and energy metabolism independent of angiogenic effects. Recently, we found that ANGPTL2 is a key adipocyte-derived inflammatory mediator that links obesity to systemic insulin resistance. In this minireview, we focus on the roles of ANGPTL2 and ANGPTL6/AGF in obesity and related metabolic diseases, and discuss the possibility that both could function as molecular targets for the prevention and treatment of obesity and metabolic diseases.
© 2010 The Authors Journal compilation © 2010 FEBS.