Ketone body and FGF21 coordinately regulate fasting-induced oxidative stress response in the heart

Ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate (βOHB) and fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) have been proposed to mediate systemic metabolic response to fasting. However, it remains elusive about the signaling elicited by ketone and FGF21 in the heart. Stimulation of neonatal rat cardiomyocytes with βOHB and FGF21 induced peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα) and PGC1α expression along with the phosphorylation of LKB1 and AMPK. βOHB and FGF21 induced transcription of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor response element (PPRE)-containing genes through an activation of PPARα. Additionally, βOHB and FGF21 induced the expression of Nrf2, a master regulator for oxidative stress response, and catalase and Ucp2 genes. We evaluated the oxidative stress response gene expression after 24 h fast in global Fgf21-null (Fgf21−/−) mice, cardiomyocyte-specific FGF21-null (cmFgf21−/−) mice, wild-type (WT), and Fgf21fl/fl littermates. Fgf21−/− mice but not cmFgf21−/− mice had unexpectedly higher serum βOHB levels, and higher expression levels of PPARα and oxidative stress response genes than WT mice or Fgf21fl/fl littermates. Notably, expression levels of oxidative stress response genes were significantly correlated with serum βOHB and PGC1α levels in both WT and Fgf21−/− mice. These findings suggest that fasting-induced βOHB and circulating FGF21 coordinately regulate oxidative stress response gene expression in the heart.