FGF21 Inflammation Tied to Nutritional Status Indicators of IBD Patients

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There was also an inverse correlation between FGF21 levels and nutritional status indicators, including body mass index, albumin level, and cholesterol in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

The endocrine hormone Fibroblast Growth Factor 21 (FGF21) is associated with different nutritional status indicators for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to a new study presented during the European Crohn’s and Colitis 2023 Meeting in Copenhagen.1

A team, led by Agata Łukawska, Wroclaw Medical University, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, assessed the correlation between serum FGF21 level and inflammatory markers and indicators nutritional status in patients with IBD.

The FGF21 Hormone

FGF21 is an endocrine hormone produced in the liver, adipose tissue, and pancreases and is generally induced by fasting states, overfeeding, inflammation, and physical activity. This hormone is involved in the metabolism of lipids, carbohydrates, and proteins and participates in body weight regulation.

There have been some initial reports of patients with IBD having increased serum FGF21.

In the study, the investigators examined 67 patients with IBD, 38 of which had Crohn’s disease and 29 patients with ulcerative colitis. The study also included 10 control participants.

For the patients with IBD, 24 were in remission and 43 were in the acute phase of the disease.

The team measured fasting serum FGF21 levels using the ELISA test and tested fecal calprotectin, serum CRP, albumin, and cholesterol levels in all participants. Finally, they calculated the Spearman rank correlation coefficient (R) to evaluate associations between the variables.

The Results

The results show no significant differences in serum FGF21 levels between all patients with IBD, patients with IBD in remission, patients with IBD with exacerbation, and the healthy control group.

On the other hand, they did find a positive correlation in patients with IBD between serum FGF21 and fecal calprotectin levels (R, 0.39; P = 0.003) and a trend toward a positive correlation between FGF21 and CRP levels (R, 0.39; P = 0.053).

There was also an inverse correlation between patients with IBD between FGF21 levels and nutritional status indicators, including body mass index (BMI) (R= –0.36, P = 0.003), albumin level (R= –0.38, P = 0.001), and cholesterol level (R= –0.30, P = 0.014).

“The intensity of intestinal inflammation is related to FGF21 level, which correlates negatively with nutritional status indicators in the course of IBD. The disturbances in FGF21 secretion may contribute to the multifactorial pathogenesis of malnutrition and weight loss in IBD patients,” the authors wrote.


A Łukawska, A Mulak, P022 A correlation of serum Fibroblast Growth Factor 21 level with inflammatory markers and indicators of nutritional status in patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Journal of Crohn's and Colitis, Volume 17, Issue Supplement_1, February 2023, Pages i191–i192,