Mechanism of action of fibrates on lipid and lipoprotein metabolism
Treatment with fibrates, a widely used class of lipid-modifying agents, results in a substantial decrease in plasma triglycerides and is usually associated with a moderate decrease in LDL cholesterol and an increase in HDL cholesterol concentrations. Recent investigations indicate that the effects of fibrates are mediated, at least in part, through alterations in transcription of genes encoding for proteins that control lipoprotein metabolism. Fibrates activate specific transcription factors belonging to the nuclear hormone receptor superfamily, termed peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs). The PPAR-alpha form mediates fibrate action on HDL cholesterol levels via transcriptional induction of synthesis of the major HDL apolipoproteins, apoA-I and apoA-II. Fibrates lower hepatic apoC-III production and increase lipoprotein lipase--mediated lipolysis via PPAR. Fibrates stimulate cellular fatty acid uptake, conversion to acyl-CoA derivatives, and catabolism by the beta-oxidation pathways, which, combined with a reduction in fatty acid and triglyceride synthesis, results in a decrease in VLDL production. In summary, both enhanced catabolism of triglyceride-rich particles and reduced secretion of VLDL underlie the hypotriglyceridemic effect of fibrates, whereas their effect on HDL metabolism is associated with changes in HDL apolipoprotein expression.