FNDC5: A novel player in metabolism and metabolic syndrome

Biochimie. 2019 Mar;158:111-116. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2019.01.001. Epub 2019 Jan 3.


Half a decade ago, transmembrane protein fibronectin type III domain-containing protein 5 (FNDC5) was found to be cleaved as a novel myokine irisin, which burst into prominence for browning of white adipose tissue during exercise. However, FNDC5, the precursor of irisin, has been paid relatively little attention compared with irisin despite evidence that FNDC5 is associated with the metabolic syndrome, which accounts for one-fourth of the world's adult population and contributes to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. Besides N-terminal and C-terminal sequences, the FNDC5 protein contains an irisin domain and a short transmembrane region. FNDC5 has shown to be widely distribute in different tissues and is highly expressed in heart, brain, liver, and skeletal muscle. Clinical studies have demonstrated that FNDC5 is essential for maintaining metabolic homeostasis and dysregulation of FNDC5 will lead to systemic metabolism imbalance and the onset of metabolic disorders. Growing evidence has suggested that FNDC5 gene polymorphisms are related to health and disease in different human populations. Additionally, FNDC5 has been found relevant to the regulation of metabolism and metabolic syndrome through diverse upstream and downstream signaling pathways in experimental studies. The present review summarizes the characteristics, clinical significance, and molecular mechanisms of FNDC5 in metabolic syndrome and proposes a novel concept that FNDC5 is activated by forming a putative ligand-receptor complex. Knowledge about the role of FNDC5 may be translated into drug development and clinical applications for the treatment of metabolic disorders.

Keywords: FNDC5; Gene polymorphism; Irisin; Metabolic syndrome; Metabolism; Molecular mechanism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus / mortality
  • Fibronectins* / genetics
  • Fibronectins* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome* / genetics
  • Metabolic Syndrome* / metabolism
  • Metabolic Syndrome* / mortality
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*


  • FNDC5 protein, human
  • Fibronectins