Adipokine FABP4 integrates energy stores and counterregulatory metabolic responses

J Lipid Res. 2019 Apr;60(4):734-740. doi: 10.1194/jlr.S091793. Epub 2019 Jan 30.


Although counterregulatory hormones and mediators of the fight-or-flight responses are well defined at many levels, how energy stores per se are integrated into this system remains an enigmatic question. Recent years have seen the adipose tissue become a central focus for mediating intracellular signaling and communication through the release of a variety of bioactive lipids and substrates, as well as various adipokines. A critical integration node among these mediators and responses is controlled by FA binding protein 4 (FABP4), also known as adipocyte protein 2 (aP2), which is highly expressed in adipose tissue and functions as a lipid chaperone protein. Recently, it was demonstrated that FABP4 is a secreted hormone that has roles in maintaining glucose homeostasis, representing a key juncture facilitating communication between energy-storage systems and distant organs to respond to life-threatening situations. However, chronic engagement of FABP4 under conditions of immunometabolic stress, such as obesity, exacerbates a number of immunometabolic diseases, including diabetes, asthma, cancer, and atherosclerosis. In both preclinical mouse models and humans, levels of circulating FABP4 have been correlated with metabolic disease incidence, and reducing FABP4 levels or activity is associated with improved metabolic health. In this review, we will discuss the intriguing emerging biology of this protein, including potential therapeutic options for targeting circulating FABP4.

Keywords: immunometabolism; metabolism; obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins / blood
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice


  • FABP4 protein, human
  • Fabp4 protein, mouse
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins