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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2019 Jun 1;104(6):2041-2053. doi: 10.1210/jc.2018-01573.

The Gly385(388)Arg Polymorphism of the FGFR4 Receptor Regulates Hepatic Lipogenesis Under Healthy Diet.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetology, Vascular Disease, Nephrology and Clinical Chemistry, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.
Institute for Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases of the Helmholtz Center Munich at the University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.
German Center for Diabetes Research, Munich-Neuherberg, Germany.
Section on Experimental Radiology, Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.
Institute of Pathology, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.
Department of Molecular Biology, Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried, Germany.



The effect of a lifestyle intervention to reduce liver fat content in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in humans is influenced by genetics. We hypothesized that the amino acid exchange in human Gly388Arg (mouse homolog: Gly385Arg) in fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 (FGFR4), which regulates bile acid, lipid, and glucose metabolism, could determine hepatic lipid accumulation and insulin sensitivity. Mechanisms of this substitution were studied in mice under normal chow and high-fat diets.


In humans, the Gly388Arg polymorphism was studied for its relationship with changes in liver fat content and insulin sensitivity during 9 months of a lifestyle intervention. We also studied a knock-in mouse strain with an Arg385 allele introduced into the murine FGFR4 gene under normal chow and high-fat diets.


In humans, the FGFR4 Arg388 allele was not associated with liver fat content or insulin sensitivity in subjects who were overweight and obese before lifestyle intervention. However, it was associated with less decrease in liver fat content and less increase in insulin sensitivity during the intervention. In mice receiving normal chow, the FGFR4 Arg385 allele was associated with elevated hepatic triglyceride content, altered hepatic lipid composition, and increased hepatic expression of genes inducing de novo lipogenesis and glycolysis. Body fat mass and distribution, glucose tolerance, and insulin sensitivity were unaltered. The FGFR4 Arg385 allele had no effect on glucose or lipid metabolism under the high-fat diet.


Our data indicate that the FGFR4 Arg388(385) allele affects hepatic lipid and glucose metabolism specifically during healthy caloric intake.


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