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Summary

Objective

Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is an emerging metabolic regulator associated with glucose and lipid metabolism. However, previous studies of FGF21 have been largely confounded by obesity, and data are limited for advanced outcomes such as coronary artery disease (CAD) and ectopic fat accumulation. We investigated the associations between serum FGF21 concentrations and glucose/lipid metabolism, CAD, and pericardial fat deposition in subjects strictly matched for obesity parameters.

Design, Patients and Measurements

We enrolled 189 patients who had undergone cardiac multidetector coronary computed tomography. We measured cardiometabolic parameters and serum FGF21 levels within body mass index (BMI)-matched groups. Correlations and linear regressions were analysed among serum FGF21 levels, pericardial fat volumes and cardiometabolic parameters. Serum FGF21 concentrations were compared in patients with and without diabetes, metabolic syndrome (MS) or CAD.

Results

Serum FGF21 concentrations were significantly higher in BMI-matched patients with MS (107·2 ± 83·6 vs 82·1 ± 67·4 ng/l without MS,< 0·05), but not among those with diabetes (84·3 ± 56·4 vs 96·3 ± 98·9 ng/l without diabetes, = 0·300) or CAD (89·6 ± 65·8 vs 84·2 ± 83·1 ng/l without CAD,= 0·633). Serum FGF21 concentrations correlated positively with triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein–cholesterol, insulin, HOMA-IR and pericardial fat volume. They showed an independent association with pericardial fat volume (β = 0·111 ± 0·053, < 0·05).

Conclusions

Serum FGF21 concentrations were significantly associated with lipid profiles, insulin resistance, pericardial fat volume and MS, independently of obesity, but not with overt CAD or diabetes.