Int J Biol Sci 2022; 18(1):292-300. doi:10.7150/ijbs.66834 This issue


Implication of the hepatokine, fibrinogen-like protein 1 in liver diseases, metabolic disorders and cancer: The need to harness its full potential

Xi-Hua Liu1, Lian-Wen Qi2, Raphael N. Alolga1,2✉, Qun Liu1✉

1. State Key Laboratory of Natural Medicines, School of Traditional Chinese Pharmacy, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing 210009, China.
2. Clinical Metabolomics Center, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing 211198, China.

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Liu XH, Qi LW, Alolga RN, Liu Q. Implication of the hepatokine, fibrinogen-like protein 1 in liver diseases, metabolic disorders and cancer: The need to harness its full potential. Int J Biol Sci 2022; 18(1):292-300. doi:10.7150/ijbs.66834. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Fibrinogen-like protein 1 (FGL1) is a novel hepatokine that forms part of the fibrinogen superfamily. It is predominantly expressed in the liver under normal physiological conditions. When the liver is injured by external factors, such as chemical drugs and radiation, FGL1 acts as a protective factor to promote the growth of regenerated cells. However, elevated hepatic FGL1 under high fat conditions can cause lipid accumulation and inflammation, which in turn trigger the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, diabetes, and obesity. FGL1 is also involved in the regulation of insulin resistance in adipose tissues and skeletal muscles as a means of communication between the liver and other tissues. In addition, the abnormally changed FGL1 levels in the plasma of cancer patients make it a potential predictor of cancer incidence in clinical practice. FGL1 was recently identified as a major functional ligand of the immune inhibitory receptor, lymphocyte-activation gene 3 (LAG3), thus making it a promising target for cancer immunotherapy except for the classical programmed cell death protein 1/programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-1/PD-L1) axis. Despite the potential of FGL1 as a new cancer biomarker and therapeutic target, there are few related studies and much of what has been reported are superficial and lack depth and particularity. Therefore, elucidating the role and underlying mechanisms of FGL1 could be crucial for the development of promising diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for related diseases. Here, we provide a comprehensive review of the cellular mechanisms and clinical prospects of FGL1 in the prevention and treatment of liver diseases, metabolic disorders and cancer, and proffer suggestions for future studies.

Keywords: FGL1, liver diseases, metabolic disorders, cancer, immunotherapy