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Heart Vessels. 2014 Aug 5. [Epub ahead of print]

Possible role of fibroblast growth factor 21 on atherosclerosis via amelioration of endoplasmic reticulum stress-mediated apoptosis in apoE-/- mice.

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, Fuwai Hospital and National Center for Cardiovascular Diseases, State Key Laboratory of Cardiovascular Disease, Chinese Academy of Medical Science and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, 100037, China,


Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF-21) is an endocrine factor that can be secreted into circulation by the liver. FGF-21 takes part in metabolic actions and is thought to be a promising candidate for the treatment of diabetes. However, the role of FGF-21 in atherosclerosis is unknown. In this study, apoE-/- mice were fed an atherogenic diet for 4 weeks with and without subcutaneous injections of FGF-21. ApoE-/- mice fed an atherogenic diet showed hyperlipidemia, a large plaque area in aortas and increased vessel wall thickness. Plasma FGF-21 content and protein level of FGF receptor 1 (FGFR1) in aortas was greater in apoE-/- than C57BL/6J mice. Exogenous FGF-21 treatment significantly ameliorated dyslipidemia in apoE-/- mice. FGF-21-treated apoE-/- mice showed reduced number of aortic plaques and plaque area as well as reduced number of TUNEL-positive cells. Protein levels of the endoplasmic reticulum stress markers glucose-regulated protein 94, caspase-12 and C/EBP homologous protein were reduced by 34.5, 31.4 and 26.5 %, respectively, in apoE-/- mice. Endogenous expression of FGF-21 and its receptor FGFR1 were upregulated in apoE-/- mice, and exogenous administration of FGF-21 ameliorated the atherogenic-induced dyslipidemia and vascular atherosclerotic lesions. FGF-21 protecting against atherosclerosis might be in part by its inhibitory effects on endoplasmic reticulum stress-mediated apoptosis.

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