Albumin-fused long-acting FGF21 analogue for the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

J Control Release. 2023 Mar:355:42-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2023.01.039. Epub 2023 Feb 1.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) currently affects about 25% of the world's population, and the numbers continue to rise as the number of obese patients increases. However, there are currently no approved treatments for NAFLD. This study reports on the evaluation of the therapeutic effect of a recombinant human serum albumin-fibroblast growth factor 21 analogue fusion protein (HSA-FGF21) on the pathology of NAFLD that was induced by using two high-fat diets (HFD), HFD-60 and STHD-01. The HFD-60-induced NAFLD model mice with obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and hepatic lipid accumulation were treated with HSA-FGF21 three times per week for 4 weeks starting at 12 weeks after the HFD-60 feeding. The administration of HSA-FGF21 suppressed the increased body weight, improved hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, and showed a decreased accumulation of plasma lipid and hepatic lipid levels. The elevation of C16:0, C18:0 and C18:1 fatty acids in the liver that were observed in the HFD-60 group was recovered by the HSA-FGF21 administration. The increased expression levels of the hepatic fatty acid uptake receptor (CD36) and fatty acid synthase (SREBP-1c, FAS, SCD-1, Elovl6) were also suppressed. In adipose tissue, HSA-FGF21 caused an improved adipocyte hypertrophy, a decrease in the levels of inflammatory cytokines and induced the expression of adiponectin and thermogenic factors. The administration of HSA-FGF21 to the STHD-01-induced NAFLD model mice resulted in suppressed plasma ALT and AST levels, oxidative stress, inflammatory cell infiltration and fibrosis. Together, HSA-FGF21 has some potential for use as a therapeutic agent for the treatment of NAFLD.

Keywords: Albumin fusion; FGF21; Fatty acid: Insulin resistance; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Albumins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Lipids / pharmacology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease* / drug therapy
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease* / metabolism
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Serum Albumin, Human


  • Albumins
  • fibroblast growth factor 21
  • Lipids
  • FGF21 protein, human
  • Serum Albumin, Human