Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21)-mediated weight loss and improvements in glucose metabolism correlate with increased uncoupling protein 1 (Ucp1) levels in adipose tissues, suggesting that UCP1-dependent thermogenesis may drive FGF21 action. It was reported that FGF21 is equally effective at reducing body weight and improving glucose homeostasis without UCP1. We find while FGF21 can lower body weight in both wild-type and Ucp1 knockout mice, rapid clearance of glucose by FGF21 is defective in the absence of UCP1. Furthermore, in obese wild-type mice there is a fall in brown adipose tissue (BAT) temperature during glucose excursion, and FGF21 improves glucose clearance while preventing the fall in BAT temperature. In Ucp1 knockout mice, the fall in BAT temperature during glucose excursion and FGF21-mediated changes in BAT temperature are lost. We conclude FGF21-mediated improvements in clearance of a glucose challenge require UCP1 and evoke UCP1-dependent thermogenesis as a method to increase glucose disposal. UCP1 was recently proposed as being dispensable for anti-obesity and anti-diabetic actions of FGF21.
Kwon, M. M., O’Dwyer, S. M., Baker, R. K., Covey, S. D., & Kieffer, T. J. (2015). FGF21-Mediated Improvements in Glucose Clearance Require Uncoupling Protein 1. Cell Reports, 13(8), 1521–1527. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2015.10.021