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Review
, 90 (1), 47-55

Role of Fibroblast Growth Factor 21 in Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: A Mini-Review

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Review

Role of Fibroblast Growth Factor 21 in Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: A Mini-Review

Daniel Yuan et al. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf).

Abstract

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is defined as glucose intolerance with onset or first diagnosis during pregnancy, but not to the level of being diagnostic for diabetes in a nonpregnant adult. In GDM, whole-body insulin-dependent glucose disposal decreases by 40%-60% which necessitates a 200%-250% increase in insulin secretion to maintain normoglycaemia. GDM develops when a pregnant woman does not produce sufficient insulin to compensate for the reduced glucose disposal. Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is a hormone that is expressed predominantly in the liver, but also in other metabolically active tissues such as pancreas, skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. In animals, FGF21 lowers blood glucose levels and inhibits glucagon secretion. In humans, circulating FGF21 levels are increased in insulin-resistant morbidities such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). An elevated FGF21 level is also an independent predictor of T2DM. GDM and T2DM are proposed to have similar underlying pathophysiologies, raising the question of whether a similar relationship exists between FGF21 and GDM as it does with T2DM. There are a limited number of studies investigating FGF21 levels in patients with GDM. Moreover, recent clinical trials investigating the therapeutic potential of FGF21 have highlighted a major gap in our understanding of the biology of FGF21. This review evaluates what is currently known about FGF21 and GDM and highlights important gaps that warrant further research.

Keywords: biomarkers; diabetes mellitus; fibroblast growth factor 21; gestational diabetes; insulin resistance; pregnancy; risk factors.

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