Regulation of lipid metabolism by angiopoietin-like proteins

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Purpose of review

The angiopoietin-like proteins (ANGPTLs) 3, 4 and 8 have emerged as key regulators of plasma lipid metabolism by serving as potent inhibitors of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (LPL). In this review, we provide an integrated picture of the role of ANGPTL3, ANGPTL4 and ANGPTL8 in lipid metabolism by focusing on their impact on LPL activity and plasma triglyceride clearance during physiological conditions such as fasting, refeeding, exercise and cold exposure.

Recent findings

Upon refeeding, circulating ANGPTL3 and ANGPTL8 promote the replenishment of white adipose tissue depots by specifically inhibiting LPL activity in oxidative tissues. During exercise and cold exposure, ANGPTL4 represses local LPL activity to assure that plasma triglycerides are specifically shuttled to exercising muscle and brown adipose tissue, respectively. Overall, ANGPTL4 is the central component of a fatty acid-driven feedback mechanism that regulates plasma triglyceride hydrolysis and subsequent tissue fatty acid uptake in response to changes in lipid availability and cellular fuel demand.


ANGPTL3, ANGPTL4 and ANGPTL8 together ensure that triglycerides from triglyceride-rich lipoproteins are adequately distributed during different physiological conditions. The impact of the ANGPTLs on plasma lipid levels has led to scrutiny of ANGPTLs as therapeutic targets for dyslipidemia.

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