The effects of fibrates and thiazolidinediones on plasma triglyceride metabolism are mediated by distinct peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPARs)
The hypolipidemic fibrates and antidiabetic thiazolidinediones display potent triglyceride-lowering activities. Studies on the molecular action mechanisms of these compounds indicate that thiazolidinediones and fibrates exert their action by activating distinct transcription factors of the peroxisome proliferator activated receptor (PPAR) family, resulting in increased expression of lipoprotein lipase (LPL) and decreased expression of apolipoprotein (apo) C-III, both key-players in plasma triglyceride metabolism. Fibrates, on the one hand, are PPAR alpha activators, which selectively induce LPL mRNA levels and activity in the liver. Furthermore, hepatic apo C-III mRNA levels and protein production strongly decrease after fibrate treatment. On the other hand, thiazolidinediones, which are high affinity ligands for PPAR gamma, have no effect in the liver, but act primarily on adipose tissue, where they induce LPL mRNA levels and activity. The modulation of the expression of the LPL and apo C-III genes in liver and adipose tissue is correlated with the tissue-specific distribution of the respective PPARs (PPAR gamma expression being restricted to adipose tissue, whereas PPAR alpha is expressed predominantly in liver) confirming that fibrates and thiazolidinediones exert their effects primarily through PPAR alpha and PPAR gamma respectively. This distinct tissue-specific transcriptional regulation of genes involved in lipid metabolism by fibrates and thiazolidinediones indicates that research of compounds displaying combined PPAR alpha and PPAR gamma activation potential should lead to the discovery of more potent triglyceride-lowering drugs, which may be of use in the treatment of hypertriglyceridemia.