Research ArticlesMetabolic Disease

Amelioration of Type 2 Diabetes by Antibody-Mediated Activation of Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 1

Science Translational Medicine  14 Dec 2011:
Vol. 3, Issue 113, pp. 113ra126
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3002669

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Clinical use of recombinant fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and other disorders linked to obesity has been proposed; however, its clinical development has been challenging owing to its poor pharmacokinetics. Here, we describe an alternative antidiabetic strategy using agonistic anti-FGFR1 (FGF receptor 1) antibodies (R1MAbs) that mimic the metabolic effects of FGF21. A single injection of R1MAb into obese diabetic mice induced acute and sustained amelioration of hyperglycemia, along with marked improvement in hyperinsulinemia, hyperlipidemia, and hepatosteatosis. R1MAb activated the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway in adipose tissues, but not in liver, and neither FGF21 nor R1MAb improved glucose clearance in lipoatrophic mice, which suggests that adipose tissues played a central role in the observed metabolic effects. In brown adipose tissues, both FGF21 and R1MAb induced phosphorylation of CREB (cyclic adenosine 5′-monophosphate response element–binding protein), and mRNA expression of PGC-1α (peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor-γ coactivator 1α) and the downstream genes associated with oxidative metabolism. Collectively, we propose FGFR1 in adipose tissues as a major functional receptor for FGF21, as an upstream regulator of PGC-1α, and as a compelling target for antibody-based therapy for type 2 diabetes and other obesity-associated disorders.


  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

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