FGF21 Mimics a Fasting-Induced Metabolic State and Increases Appetite in Zebrafish

Sci Rep. 2020 Apr 24;10(1):6993. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-63726-w.


Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is a member of the FGF superfamily that acts in an endocrine manner. FGF21 is a key regulator of energy balance and metabolism in mammals, and has emerged as a therapeutic potential for treating obesity and diabetes. Here, we report that mRNAs encoding FGF21 and its receptors are widely distributed within the zebrafish tissues and are importantly modulated by fasting (decreased in brain and liver, and increased in gut). FGF21 stimulates food intake in zebrafish, likely in part by modulating brain npy/agrp and nucb2/nesfatin-1 and gut ghrelin and cck mRNA expression. In accordance with this orexigenic role, the expression of FGF21 and its receptors were observed to increase preprandially and decrease post-feeding in the foregut and/or liver. Finally, we found important evidence in favor of a role for FGF21 in regulating glucose and lipid metabolism in the zebrafish liver in a way that mimics a fasting metabolic state.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetite / physiology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Fasting / physiology*
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Systems Biology
  • Zebrafish / metabolism*
  • Zebrafish / physiology*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • fibroblast growth factor 21
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors