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Growth Factor Treats Obesity and Fatty Liver Disease in Mice

Treatment with FGF21 reduces body weight, hepatosteatosis and insulin resistance in mice

MONDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Treatment with the growth factor and metabolic regulator fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) lowers body fat and reduces hepatosteatosis, implicating its therapeutic potential to treat obesity and fatty liver disease, according to research in mice published in the November issue of Endocrinology.

Tamer Coskun, of Lilly Research Laboratories in Indianapolis, and colleagues systemically treated mice with diet-induced obesity with FGF21 for two weeks. Changes in body weight, caloric intake and physical activity were monitored to determine the growth factor's effect on obesity, while alterations in liver function were assessed by monitoring fat oxidation as well as de novo lipogenesis.

After FGF21 treatment, obese mice showed a 20 percent decrease in average body weight, which was primarily attributed to a reduction in adipose tissue, but not decreased caloric intake, the investigators found. FGF21-treated mice also showed increases in energy expenditure, fat utilization and lipid excretion. Improvements in symptoms of fatty liver disease were also evident by a reduction in hepatosteatosis, the researchers report. Treated mice also exhibited decreases in insulin and leptin resistance, improved fat oxidation and suppression of liver lipid generation, the report indicates.

"Overall, this data suggests that FGF21 exhibits the therapeutic characteristics necessary for an effective treatment of obesity and fatty liver disease, and provides novel insights into the metabolic determinants of these activities," the authors write.

The study was supported by Lilly Research Laboratories.

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