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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Symposia

Physiology and Endocrinology Symposium: FGF21: Insights into mechanism of action from preclinical studies12


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 92 No. 2, p. 407-413
    Received: Aug 27, 2013
    Accepted: Nov 01, 2013
    Published: November 24, 2014

    3 Corresponding author(s):

  1. P. J. Antonellis,
  2. A. Kharitonenkov and
  3. A. C. Adams 3
  1. Lilly Research Laboratories, Lilly Corporate Center, Indianapolis, IN 46285


Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is a multifaceted metabolic regulator which has several potential applications in the treatment of metabolic disease. When administered in vivo, FGF21 exhibits a plethora of actions, modulating metabolic homeostasis in a diverse manner. However, the mechanism and site of action underlying these effects were, until recently, entirely uncertain. Using mouse models lacking either FGF receptor isoform 1 (FGFR1) or βKlotho (KLB), a transmembrane co-factor critical for FGF21 action, our group and others sought to determine the tissue on which FGF21 acts and the receptor complex responsible for mediating its in vivo efficacy. Importantly, when KLB was ablated from all tissues mice were completely refractory to FGF21 action. Therefore, to determine the precise tissue of action we utilized mice with tissue specific deletion of FGFR1 in either adipose tissue or neurons, respectively. Surprisingly, in animals with neuronal FGFR1 loss there was no change in the metabolic activity of FGF21, suggesting a lack of central FGF21 action in the pharmacologic setting. In contrast, we found dramatic attenuation of metabolic efficacy in mice with adipose-specific FGFR1 ablation following either acute or chronic dosing with recombinant FGF21. Furthermore, several recent studies have suggested that the metabolic effects of FGF21 may occur via modulation of adipokines such as adiponectin and leptin. Importantly, the action of FGF21 via adipose tissue results in alterations in both secretion as well as systemic sensitivity to these factors. Therefore, while FGF21 itself does not seem to directly act on the CNS, leptin and other endocrine mediators may serve as intermediary facilitators of FGF21’s secondary central effects downstream of an initial and direct engagement of FGF21 receptor complex in adipose tissue. Further studies are required to delineate the precise mechanistic basis underlying the interplay between peripheral and central FGF21 modes of action in both the physiological and pharmacological settings.

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