Fibroblast growth factor 21 is regulated by the IRE1α-XBP1 branch of the unfolded protein response and counteracts endoplasmic reticulum stress-induced hepatic steatosis

Shan Jiang, Cheng Yan, Qi-chen Fang, Meng-le Shao, Yong-liang Zhang, Yang Liu, Yi-ping Deng, Bo Shan, Jing-qi Liu, Hua-ting Li, Liu Yang, Jian Zhou, Zhi Dai, Yong Liu, Wei-ping Jia
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2014 October 24, 289 (43): 29751-65
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress activates the adaptive unfolded protein response (UPR) and represents a critical mechanism that underlies metabolic dysfunctions. Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), a hormone that is predominantly secreted by the liver, exerts a broad range of effects upon the metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids. Although increased circulating levels of FGF21 have been documented in animal models and human subjects with obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, the functional interconnections between metabolic ER stress and FGF21 are incompletely understood. Here, we report that increased ER stress along with the simultaneous elevation of FGF21 expression were associated with the occurrence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease both in diet-induced obese mice and human patients. Intraperitoneal administration of the ER stressor tunicamycin in mice resulted in hepatic steatosis, accompanied by activation of the three canonical UPR branches and increased the expression of FGF21. Furthermore, the IRE1α-XBP1 pathway of the UPR could directly activate the transcriptional expression of Fgf21. Administration of recombinant FGF21 in mice alleviated tunicamycin-induced liver steatosis, in parallel with reduced eIF2α-ATF4-CHOP signaling. Taken together, these results suggest that FGF21 is an integral physiological component of the cellular UPR program, which exerts beneficial feedback effects upon lipid metabolism through counteracting ER stress.

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