FGF21 as a mediator of adaptive responses to stress and metabolic benefits of anti-diabetic drugs

    1. Myung-Shik Lee1,2
    1. 1Severance Biomedical Research Institute
      2Department of Internal Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, 50 Yonsei‐ro, Seodaemun‐gu, Seoul 120-752, Korea
    1. Correspondence should be addressed to M-S Lee; Email: mslee0923{at}yuhs.ac


    Most hormones secreted from specific organs of the body in response to diverse stimuli contribute to the homeostasis of the whole organism. Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), a hormone induced by a variety of environmental or metabolic stimuli, plays a crucial role in the adaptive response to these stressful conditions. In addition to its role as a stress hormone, FGF21 appears to function as a mediator of the therapeutic effects of currently available drugs and those under development for treatment of metabolic diseases. In this review, we highlight molecular mechanisms and the functional importance of FGF21 induction in response to diverse stress conditions such as changes of nutritional status, cold exposure, and exercise. In addition, we describe recent findings regarding the role of FGF21 in the pathogenesis and treatment of diabetes associated with obesity, liver diseases, pancreatitis, muscle atrophy, atherosclerosis, cardiac hypertrophy, and diabetic nephropathy. Finally, we discuss the current understanding of the actions of FGF21 as a crucial regulator mediating beneficial metabolic effects of therapeutic agents such as metformin, glucagon/glucagon-like peptide 1 analogues, thiazolidinedione, sirtuin 1 activators, and lipoic acid.

    • Received in final form 17 May 2015
    • Accepted 1 June 2015
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