Fetuin-A is a secretory liver glycoprotein with multiple physiological functions such as regulation of insulin resistance, tissue calcification, bone metabolism, cellular proteolytic activity, and self-proliferative signaling.
Fetuin-A is a unique molecule which binds to the insulin receptor, modulating its sensitivity, and transducing “the physiological conditions” (serum levels of the metabolites like glucose, free fatty acids, inflammatory signals) from outside into inside the cells. Plasma fetuin-A levels correlate with reduced glucose tolerance and insulin resistance. Impaired insulin sensitivity leads to the development of metabolic syndrome, an increased risk for type 2 diabetes (T2DM), dyslipidaemias and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Furthermore, fetuin-A inversely correlates with inflammatory and activation biomarkers, e.g. in patients with T2DM. Thus, circulatory fetuin-A levels may have plausible predictive importance as a biomarker of risk of diabetes and negative acute phase protein. Dysregulated, it plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of some metabolic disorders and clinical inflammatory conditions like metabolic syndrome, T2DM, CVDs, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), etc.
Fetuin-A is a major plasma glycoprotein released mainly by the liver. Its functions include inhibition of the activity of insulin receptor, regulation of response to inflammation, inhibition of calcified matrix metabolism and ectopic mineralization, etc. Three major functional domains of fetuin-A have been identified: one similar to the Ca-binding domains, one inhibiting cysteine protease, and a domain with high affinity to insulin receptor. The fetuin-A molecule may be considered as a highly pleomorphic protein with an important impact in a variety of clinically expressed metabolic and pathological processes. It could be used as a marker in clinical practice in the future.