Fatty acid binding proteins: tissue-specific functions in health and disease

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2014 Mar;17(2):124-9. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000031.


Purpose of review: The purpose of this study is to review recent evidence for the role of the cytosolic fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs) as central regulators of whole-body metabolic control.

Recent findings: Dysregulated FABPs have been associated with a number of diseases, including obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (FABP1, FABP2, FABP4), cardiovascular risk (FABP3) and cancer (FABP5, FABP7). As underlying mechanisms become better understood, FABPs may represent novel biomarkers for therapeutic targets. In addition, the role of FABPs as important signalling molecules has also been highlighted in recent years; for example, FABP3 may act as a myokine, matching whole-body metabolism to muscular energy demands and FABP4 functions as an adipokine in regulating macrophage and adipocyte interactions during inflammation.

Summary: In addition to their traditional role as fatty acid trafficking proteins, increasing evidence supports the role of FABPs as important controllers of global metabolism, with their dysregulation being linked to a host of metabolic diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • Obesity / metabolism*


  • Adipokines
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins
  • Fatty Acids