Spinal Cord Injury Reduces Serum Levels of Fibroblast Growth Factor-21 and Impairs Its Signaling Pathways in Liver and Adipose Tissue in Mice

Academic Article


  • Spinal cord injury (SCI) results in dysregulation of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism; the underlying cellular and physiological mechanisms remain unclear. Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is a circulating protein primarily secreted by the liver that lowers blood glucose levels, corrects abnormal lipid profiles, and mitigates non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. FGF21 acts via activating FGF receptor 1 and ß-klotho in adipose tissue and stimulating release of adiponectin from adipose tissue which in turn signals in the liver and skeletal muscle. We examined FGF21/adiponectin signaling after spinal cord transection in mice fed a high fat diet (HFD) or a standard mouse chow. Tissues were collected at 84 days after spinal cord transection or a sham SCI surgery. SCI reduced serum FGF21 levels and hepatic FGF21 expression, as well as β-klotho and FGF receptor-1 (FGFR1) mRNA expression in adipose tissue. SCI also reduced serum levels and adipose tissue mRNA expression of adiponectin and leptin, two major adipokines. In addition, SCI suppressed hepatic type 2 adiponectin receptor (AdipoR2) mRNA expression and PPARα activation in the liver. Post-SCI mice fed a HFD had further suppression of serum FGF21 levels and hepatic FGF21 expression. Elevated serum free fatty acid (FFA) levels after HFD feeding were observed in post-SCI mice but not in sham-mice, suggesting defective FFA uptake after SCI. Moreover, after SCI several genes that are implicated in insulin’s action had reduced expression in tissues of interest. These findings suggest that downregulated FGF21/adiponectin signaling and impaired responsiveness of adipose tissues to FGF21 may, at least in part, contribute to the overall picture of metabolic dysfunction after SCI.
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    Author List

  • Liu XH; Graham ZA; Harlow L; Pan J; Azulai D; Bauman WA; Yarrow J; Cardozo CP
  • Volume

  • 12