Role of free fatty acid receptors in the regulation of energy metabolism

Takafumi Hara, Daiji Kashihara, Atsuhiko Ichimura, Ikuo Kimura, Gozoh Tsujimoto, Akira Hirasawa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

123 Citations (Scopus)


Free fatty acids (FFAs) are energy-generating nutrients that act as signaling molecules in various cellular processes. Several orphan G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) that act as FFA receptors (FFARs) have been identified and play important physiological roles in various diseases. FFA ligands are obtained from food sources and metabolites produced during digestion and lipase degradation of triglyceride stores. FFARs can be grouped according to ligand profiles, depending on the length of carbon chains of the FFAs. Medium- and long-chain FFAs activate FFA1/GPR40 and FFA4/GPR120. Short-chain FFAs activate FFA2/GPR43 and FFA3/GPR41. However, only medium-chain FFAs, and not long-chain FFAs, activate GPR84 receptor. A number of pharmacological and physiological studies have shown that these receptors are expressed in various tissues and are primarily involved in energy metabolism. Because an impairment of these processes is a part of the pathology of obesity and type 2 diabetes, FFARs are considered as key therapeutic targets. Here, we reviewed recently published studies on the physiological functions of these receptors, primarily focusing on energy homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1292-1300
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Sep


  • Energy metabolism
  • Fatty acid
  • Free fatty acid receptor
  • G protein-coupled receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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