Plasma FGF21 Levels Are Not Associated with Weight Loss or Improvements in Metabolic Health Markers upon 12 Weeks of Energy Restriction: Secondary Analysis of an RCT

Anouk Gijbels, Sophie Schutte, Diederik Esser, Charlotte C.J.R. Michielsen, Els Siebelink, Monica Mars, Marco Mensink, Lydia A. Afman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent studies suggest that circulating fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) may be a marker of metabolic health status. We performed a secondary analysis of a 12-week randomized controlled trial to investigate the effects of two energy restriction (ER) diets on fasting and postprandial plasma FGF21 levels, as well as to explore correlations of plasma FGF21 with metabolic health markers, (macro)nutrient intake and sweet-taste preference. Abdominally obese subjects aged 40–70 years (n = 110) were randomized to one of two 25% ER diets (high-nutrient-quality diet or low-nutrient-quality diet) or a control group. Plasma FGF21 was measured in the fasting state and 120 min after a mixed meal. Both ER diets did not affect fasting or postprandial plasma FGF21 levels despite weight loss and accompanying health improvements. At baseline, the postprandial FGF21 response was inversely correlated to fasting plasma glucose (ρ = −0.24, p = 0.020) and insulin (ρ = −0.32, p = 0.001), HOMA-IR (ρ = −0.34, p = 0.001), visceral adipose tissue (ρ = −0.24, p = 0.046), and the liver enzyme aspartate aminotransferase (ρ = −0.23, p = 0.021). Diet-induced changes in these markers did not correlate to changes in plasma FGF21 levels upon intervention. Baseline higher habitual polysaccharide intake, but not mono- and disaccharide intake or sweet-taste preference, was related to lower fasting plasma FGF21 (p = 0.022). In conclusion, we found no clear evidence that fasting plasma FGF21 is a marker for metabolic health status. Circulating FGF21 dynamics in response to an acute nutritional challenge may reflect metabolic health status better than fasting levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5061
JournalNutrients
Volume14
Issue number23
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • caloric restriction
  • dietary intervention
  • energy restriction
  • FGF21
  • fibroblast growth factor 21
  • liver fat
  • metabolic health
  • obesity
  • overweight
  • weight loss

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