Objective: Four-and-a-Half-LIM-domain-protein 2 (FHL2) modulates multiple signal transduction pathways but has not been implicated in obesity or energy metabolism. In humans, methylation and expression of the FHL2 gene increases with age, and high FHL2 expression is associated with increased body weight in humans and mice. This led us to hypothesize that FHL2 is a determinant of diet-induced obesity. Methods: FHL2-deficient (FHL2−/−) and wild type male mice were fed a high-fat diet. Metabolic phenotyping of these mice, as well as transcriptional analysis of key metabolic tissues was performed. Correlation of the expression of FHL2 and relevant genes was assessed in datasets from white adipose tissue of individuals with and without obesity. Results: FHL2 Deficiency protects mice from high-fat diet-induced weight gain, whereas glucose handling is normal. We observed enhanced energy expenditure, which may be explained by a combination of changes in multiple tissues; mild activation of brown adipose tissue with increased fatty acid uptake, increased cardiac glucose uptake and browning of white adipose tissue. Corroborating our findings in mice, expression of FHL2 in human white adipose tissue positively correlates with obesity and negatively with expression of browning-associated genes. Conclusion: Our results position FHL2 as a novel regulator of obesity and energy expenditure in mice and human. Given that FHL2 expression increases during aging, we now show that low FHL2 expression associates with a healthy metabolic state.
Original languageEnglish
Article number154815
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalMetabolism: Clinical and Experimental
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Browning of WAT
  • Diet-induced obese mice
  • Energy expenditure
  • Energy metabolism
  • Four-and-a-half LIM domain protein 2 (FHL2)
  • Glucose uptake
  • Lipid uptake
  • White adipose tissue (WAT)

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