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Visfatin: A Protein Secreted by Visceral Fat That Mimics the Effects of Insulin

Science  21 Jan 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5708, pp. 426-430
DOI: 10.1126/science.1097243

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Abstract

Fat tissue produces a variety of secreted proteins (adipocytokines) with important roles in metabolism. We isolated a newly identified adipocytokine, visfatin, that is highly enriched in the visceral fat of both humans and mice and whose expression level in plasma increases during the development of obesity. Visfatin corresponds to a protein identified previously as pre–B cell colony-enhancing factor (PBEF), a 52-kilodalton cytokine expressed in lymphocytes. Visfatin exerted insulin-mimetic effects in cultured cells and lowered plasma glucose levels in mice. Mice heterozygous for a targeted mutation in the visfatin gene had modestly higher levels of plasma glucose relative to wild-type littermates. Surprisingly, visfatin binds to and activates the insulin receptor. Further study of visfatin's physiological role may lead to new insights into glucose homeostasis and/or new therapies for metabolic disorders such as diabetes.

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