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Mol Pharmacol. 2008 Aug;74(2):403-12. doi: 10.1124/mol.108.044826. Epub 2008 May 8.

Adipose fibroblast growth factor 21 is up-regulated by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma and altered metabolic states.

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  • 1Departments of Molecular Profiling, Merck Research Laboratories, P.O. Box 2000, Rahway, NJ 07065, USA.


Adipose tissue is a metabolically responsive endocrine organ that secretes a myriad of adipokines. Antidiabetic drugs such as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) gamma agonists target adipose tissue gene expression and correct hyperglycemia via whole-body insulin sensitization. The mechanism by which altered gene expression in adipose tissue affects liver and muscle insulin sensitivity (and thus glucose homeostasis) is not fully understood. One possible mechanism involves the alteration in adipokine secretion, in particular the up-regulation of secreted factors that increase whole-body insulin sensitivity. Here, we report the use of transcriptional profiling to identify genes encoding for secreted proteins the expression of which is regulated by PPARgamma agonists. Of the 379 genes robustly regulated by two structurally distinct PPARgamma agonists in the epididymal white adipose tissue (EWAT) of db/db mice, 33 encoded for known secreted proteins, one of which was FGF21. Although FGF21 was recently reported to be up-regulated in cultured adipocytes by PPARgamma agonists and in liver by PPARalpha agonists and induction of ketotic states, we demonstrate that the protein is transcriptionally up-regulated in adipose tissue in vivo by PPARgamma agonist treatment and under a variety of physiological conditions, including fasting and high fat diet feeding. In addition, we found that circulating levels of FGF21 protein were increased upon treatment with PPARgamma agonists and under ketogenic states. These results suggest a role for FGF21 in mediating the antidiabetic activities of PPARgamma agonists.

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