Clinical Research

Adipose tissue contribution to plasma fibroblast growth factor 21 and fibroblast activation protein in obesity

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Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is an important regulator of energy metabolism. FGF21 is inactivated by fibroblast activation protein (FAP). We investigated whether FGF21 and/or FAP are secreted from human white adipose tissue of individuals with obesity by measuring total FGF21, active FGF21, and FAP concentrations in arterialized blood and venous blood draining the subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue (scAT). Measurements were performed under fasting conditions and after a high fat meal before and after diet-induced weight loss in 16 adults with BMI 27–35 kg/m2. FGF21 was not released from scAT, neither before nor after weight loss in agreement with an undetectable gene expression of FGF21 in this tissue. Although scAT showed significant gene expression of FAP, no release of FAP from the tissue could be detected. The high fat meal increased postprandial circulating FGF21 but not FAP. Circulating levels of FAP but not FGF21 were significantly reduced after weight loss. On the other hand, FAP expression in scAT was increased. In conclusion, release from scAT does not appear to contribute to circulating concentrations of FGF21 and FAP and their responses to ingestion of a high fat meal or weight loss, respectively, in individuals with obesity.

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Author information

MAvB and ECMM conceived the study and RGV and NJTR performed it. ACA and CCC were responsible for the analysis of FGF21 and FAP. MAvB wrote the manuscript. All authors commented on the content and approved the final version.

Correspondence to Marleen A. van Baak.

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Conflict of interest

MAvB, ECM, RGV, and NJTR declare that they have no conflict of interest. CCC and ACA are employed by Eli Lilly and Company. This study was supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research TOP, Grant Number: 200500001.

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