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Fatty acid binding proteins: tissue-specific functions in health and disease

Thumser, Alfred E.a; Moore, Jennifer Bernadetteb; Plant, Nick J.a

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: March 2014 - Volume 17 - Issue 2 - p 124–129
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000031
LIPID METABOLISM AND THERAPY: Edited by Philip C. Calder and Richard J. Deckelbaum

Purpose of review The purpose of this study is to review recent evidence for the role of the cytosolic fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs) as central regulators of whole-body metabolic control.

Recent findings Dysregulated FABPs have been associated with a number of diseases, including obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (FABP1, FABP2, FABP4), cardiovascular risk (FABP3) and cancer (FABP5, FABP7). As underlying mechanisms become better understood, FABPs may represent novel biomarkers for therapeutic targets. In addition, the role of FABPs as important signalling molecules has also been highlighted in recent years; for example, FABP3 may act as a myokine, matching whole-body metabolism to muscular energy demands and FABP4 functions as an adipokine in regulating macrophage and adipocyte interactions during inflammation.

Summary In addition to their traditional role as fatty acid trafficking proteins, increasing evidence supports the role of FABPs as important controllers of global metabolism, with their dysregulation being linked to a host of metabolic diseases.

aDepartment of Biochemistry and Physiology

bDepartment of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK

Correspondence to Alfred E. Thumser, Department of Biochemistry and Physiology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 7XH, UK. Tel: +44 0 1483 686383; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins