Therapeutic potential of the endocrine fibroblast growth factors FGF19, FGF21 and FGF23

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2016 Jan;15(1):51-69. doi: 10.1038/nrd.2015.9. Epub 2015 Nov 16.


The endocrine fibroblast growth factors (FGFs), FGF19, FGF21 and FGF23, are critical for maintaining whole-body homeostasis, with roles in bile acid, glucose and lipid metabolism, modulation of vitamin D and phosphate homeostasis and metabolic adaptation during fasting. Given these functions, the endocrine FGFs have therapeutic potential in a wide array of chronic human diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and kidney and cardiovascular disease. However, the safety and feasibility of chronic endocrine FGF administration has been challenged, and FGF analogues and mimetics are now being investigated. Here, we discuss current knowledge of the complex biology of the endocrine FGFs and assess how this may be harnessed therapeutically.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease / drug therapy*
  • Drugs, Investigational / pharmacology
  • Drugs, Investigational / therapeutic use
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor-23
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / agonists
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / physiology*
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological


  • Drugs, Investigational
  • FGF19 protein, human
  • FGF23 protein, human
  • fibroblast growth factor 21
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor-23