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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 2, 2015

Is retinol binding protein 4 a link between adiposity and cancer?

  • Noa Noy , Li Li , Matthew V. Abola ORCID logo and Nathan A. Berger EMAIL logo


Retinol binding protein 4 (RBP4) is synthesized in the liver where it binds vitamin A, retinol, and transports it to tissues throughout the body. It has been shown in some studies that the level of circulating RBP4 increases with body mass, and the protein has been implicated as a mediator in the development of insulin resistance and the metabolic disease. Adipose tissue serves as another site of RBP4 synthesis, accounting for its designation as an adipokine. In addition to its function as a transport protein, RBP4 serves as a signaling molecule which, by binding to the membrane receptor STRA6, triggers downstream activation of pro-oncogenic pathways including JAK2/STAT3/5. Taken together, available information suggests the possibility that RBP4 may be a link between obesity and cancer.

Corresponding author: Nathan A. Berger, Departments of Medicine, Biochemistry and Genetics, Center for Science Health and Society, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, 10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106-4971, USA, Phone: +1-216-368-4084, E-mail:
aCo-first authors.


This work was supported by NIH Grants RO1DK088969 to NN; RO1CA136726 and UO1CA181770 to LL; and Case Center for Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer, UA54CA116867, and Case GI SPORE P50CA50964 to LL and NAB.


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Received: 2015-4-30
Accepted: 2015-5-23
Published Online: 2015-7-2
Published in Print: 2015-8-1

©2015 by De Gruyter

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