Fibroblast growth factor 21 alleviates diabetes-induced cognitive decline

Cereb Cortex. 2024 Jan 31;34(2):bhad502. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhad502.


Diabetes mellitus (DM) causes damage to the central nervous system, resulting in cognitive impairment. Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) exhibits the potential to alleviate neurodegeneration. However, the therapeutic effect of intracerebroventricular (i.c.v) FGF21 infusion on diabetes-induced cognitive decline (DICD) and its potential mechanisms remain unclear. In this study, the impact of FGF21 on DICD was explored, and 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-based metabolomics plus 13C NMR spectroscopy in combine with intravenous [1-13C]-glucose infusion were used to investigate the underlying metabolic mechanism. Results revealed that i.c.v FGF21 infusion effectively improved learning and memory performance of DICD mice; neuron loss and apoptosis in hippocampus and cortex were significantly blocked, suggesting a potential neuroprotective role of FGF21 in DICD. Metabolomics results revealed that FGF21 modulated DICD metabolic alterations related to glucose and neurotransmitter metabolism, which are characterized by distinct recovered enrichment of [3-13C]-lactate, [3-13C]-aspartate, [4-13C]-glutamine, [3-13C]-glutamine, [4-13C]-glutamate, and [4-13C]- γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) from [1-13C]-glucose. Moreover, diabetes-induced neuron injury and metabolic dysfunctions might be mediated by PI3K/AKT/GSK-3β signaling pathway inactivation in the hippocampus and cortex, which were activated by i.c.v injection of FGF21. These findings indicate that i.c.v FGF21 infusion exerts its neuroprotective effect on DICD by remodeling cerebral glucose and neurotransmitter metabolism by activating the PI3K/AKT/GSK-3β signaling pathway.

Keywords: 13C NMR spectroscopy; FGF21; metabolomics; neurotransmitter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / drug therapy
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus*
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Glutamine / metabolism
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Mice
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism


  • Glutamine
  • fibroblast growth factor 21
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Glucose
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors