FGF21 Is an Exocrine Pancreas Secretagogue

Katie C. Coate, Genaro Hernandez, Curtis A. Thorne, Shengyi Sun, Thao D.V. Le, Kevin Vale, Steven A. Kliewer, David J. Mangelsdorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


The metabolic stress hormone FGF21 is highly expressed in exocrine pancreas, where its levels are increased by refeeding and chemically induced pancreatitis. However, its function in the exocrine pancreas remains unknown. Here, we show that FGF21 stimulates digestive enzyme secretion from pancreatic acinar cells through an autocrine/paracrine mechanism that requires signaling through a tyrosine kinase receptor complex composed of an FGF receptor and β-Klotho. Mice lacking FGF21 accumulate zymogen granules and are susceptible to pancreatic ER stress, an effect that is reversed by administration of recombinant FGF21. Mice carrying an acinar cell-specific deletion of β-Klotho also accumulate zymogen granules but are refractory to FGF21-stimulated secretion. Like the classical post-prandial secretagogue, cholecystokinin (CCK), FGF21 triggers intracellular calcium release via PLC-IP3R signaling. However, unlike CCK, FGF21 does not induce protein synthesis, thereby preventing protein accumulation. Thus, pancreatic FGF21 is a digestive enzyme secretagogue whose physiologic function is to maintain acinar cell proteostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-480
Number of pages9
JournalCell Metabolism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 7 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • CCK
  • FGF21
  • acinar cell
  • calcium signaling
  • exocrine pancreas
  • pancreatitis
  • proteostasis
  • secretagogue
  • secretion
  • β-Klotho

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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