Circulating levels of fatty acid-binding protein family and metabolic phenotype in the general population

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 20;8(11):e81318. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081318. eCollection 2013.


Objective: Fatty acid-binding proteins (FABPs) are a family of 14-15-kDa proteins, and some FABPs have been to be used as biomarkers of tissue injury by leak from cells. However, recent studies have shown that FABPs can be secreted from cells into circulation. Here we examined determinants and roles of circulating FABPs in a general population.

Methods: From the database of the Tanno-Sobetsu Study, a study with a population-based cohort design, data in 2011 for 296 subjects on no medication were retrieved, and FABP1~5 in their serum samples were assayed.

Results: Level of FABP4, but not the other isoforms, showed a gender difference, being higher in females than in males. Levels of all FABPs were negatively correlated with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), but a distinct pattern of correlation with other clinical parameters was observed for each FABP isoform; significant correlates were alanine aminotransferase (ALT), blood pressure (BP), and brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) for FABP1, none besides eGFR for FABP2, age, BP, and BNP for FABP3, age, waist circumference (WC), BP, BNP, lipid variables, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), and HOMA-R for FABP4, and age, WC, BP, ALT, BNP, and HOMA-R for FABP5. FABP4 is the most strongly related to metabolic markers among FABPs. In a multivariate regression analysis, FABP4 level was an independent predictor of HOMA-R after adjustment of age, gender, WC, BP, HDL cholesterol, and hsCRP.

Conclusions: Each FABP isoform level showed a distinct pattern of correlation with clinical parameters, although levels of all FABPs were negatively determined by renal function. Circulating FABP4 appears to be a useful biomarker for detecting pre-clinical stage of metabolic syndrome, especially insulin resistance, in the general population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenotype*
  • Public Health Surveillance*
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins

Grant support

M.F. has been supported by grants from Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Uehara Memorial Foundation, Mitsubishi Pharma Research Foundation, Naito Foundation Natural Science Scholarship, Takeda Science Foundation, Mochida Memorial Foundation for Medical and Pharmaceutical Research, Kanae Foundation for the Promotion of Medical Science, Cardiovascular Research Foundation, Suzuken Memorial Foundation, Sumitomo Foundation, Tokyo Biochemical Research Foundation, Japan Diabetes Foundation, Ono Medical Research Foundation, Novartis Foundation (Japan) for the Promotion of Science, Akiyama Life Science Foundation, Terumo Life Science Foundation, Daiwa Securities Health Foundation, Suhara Memorial Foundation, Takeda Medical Research Foundation, Japan Foundation for Applied Enzymology, and Ichiro Kanehara Foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.