Fibroblast growth factor 21: a novel metabolic regulator from pharmacology to physiology
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Li, H., Zhang, J. & Jia, W. Front. Med. (2013) 7: 25. doi:10.1007/s11684-013-0244-8
Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is a member of the fibroblast growth factor family. It actually functions as endocrine hormones but does not regulate cell growth and differentiation. It is demonstrated that FGF21 acts on multiple tissue to coordinate carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, including enhancing insulin sensitivity, decreasing triglyceride concentrations, causing weight loss, ameliorating obesity-associated hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia. Moreover, FGF21 also plays important roles in some physiological processes, such as fasting and feeding, growth hormone axis and thermogenic function of brown adipose tissue. Clinical relevance of FGF21 in humans is still unclear, and the basis and consequences of increased FGF21 in metabolic disease remain to be determined. Both the pharmacological actions and physiological roles make FGF21 attractive drug candidates for treating metabolic disease, but some questions remain to be answered. This article concentrates on recent advances in our understanding of FGF21.