Serum liver fatty acid binding protein levels correlate positively with obesity and insulin resistance in Chinese young adults

PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e48777. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048777. Epub 2012 Nov 7.


Background: Liver fatty acid-binding protein (FABP1) plays an inconclusive role in adiposity. We investigated the association of serum FABP1 levels with obesity and insulin resistance in Chinese young people under 30 years old.

Methodology and principal findings: Cross-sectional analysis including 200 obese and 172 normal-weight subjects matched for age and sex, anthropometric measurements were performed and serum FABP1 and biochemical characteristics were measured. Insulin resistance was determined by homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and by the insulin sensitivity index (S(i)) derived from Bergman's minimal model. FABP1 levels in obese subjects were significantly higher than those in normal-weight subjects (p<0.001) and the significance remained after adjustment for age, gender, alanine and aspartate aminotransferases (p<0.001). Serum FABP1 levels were significantly correlated with many metabolic-related parameters, with BMI and triglycerides as the independent determinants. FABP1 levels remained an independent risk factor of insulin resistance assessed by binary S(i) (OR = 1.868 per SD unit, 95% CI [1.035-3.373], p = 0.038) after adjustment for age, sex, BMI, waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, serum triacylglycerol, total cholesterol, HDL- and LDL-cholesterol,. FABP1 levels were also elevated with an increasing number of components of the metabolic syndrome (p for trend <0.001). Multiple regression modeling for the MetS and its components demonstrated that hypertriglyceridemia and low HDL-cholesterol were significantly correlated to serum FABP1 levels.

Conclusions and significance: Serum FABP1 correlates positively with obesity and insulin resistance in Chinese young adults. Our data supports the fact that FABP1 might be an important mediator participating in fatty acid metabolism and energy balance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • China
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Young Adult


  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins

Grant support

This study was supported by the grants from the National Key Technologies Research and Development Program (2008ZX09312-0191200), the Shanghai Committee on Science and Technology (10dz1920802) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 30725037, 30700383, 30971077, 81170784), Shanghai Natural Science and Technology Foundation (11ZR143200), the Ministry of Health on Research for special purpose (201202008). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.