Apelin receptors: From signaling to antidiabetic strategy

Eur J Pharmacol. 2015 Sep 15;763(Pt B):149-59. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2015.05.017. Epub 2015 May 22.


The G protein-coupled receptor APJ and its cognate ligand, apelin, are widely expressed throughout human body. They are implicated in different key physiological processes such as angiogenesis, cardiovascular functions, fluid homeostasis and energy metabolism regulation. On the other hand, this couple ligand-receptor is also involved in the development and progression of different pathologies including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Recently, a new endogenous peptidic ligand of APJ, named Elabela/Toddler, has been identified and shown to play a crucial role in embryonic development. Whereas nothing is yet known regarding Elabela/Toddler functions in adulthood, apelin has been extensively described as a beneficial adipokine regarding to glucose and lipid metabolism and is endowed with anti-diabetic and anti-obesity properties. Indeed, there is a growing body of evidence supporting apelin signaling as a novel promising therapeutic target for metabolic disorders (obesity, type 2 diabetes). In this review, we provide an overview of the pharmacological properties of APJ and its endogenous ligands. We also report the activity of peptidic and non-peptidic agonists and antagonists targeting APJ described in the literature. Finally, we highlight the important role of this signaling pathway in the control of energy metabolism at the peripheral level and in the central nervous system in both physiological conditions and during obesity or diabetes.

Keywords: APJ; Adipokine; Apelin; Diabetes; Elabela; G protein-coupled receptor; Metabolism; Obesity; Signaling; Toddler.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / blood
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / chemistry
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled