Dyslipidaemia is a major risk factor in the development of atherosclerosis, and lipid lowering is achieved clinically using fibrate drugs and statins. Fibrate drugs are ligands for the fatty acid receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)α, and the lipid-lowering effects of this class of drugs are mediated by the control of lipid metabolism, as directed by PPARα. PPARα ligands also mediate potentially protective changes in the expression of several proteins that are not involved in lipid metabolism, but are implicated in the pathogenesis of heart disease. Clinical studies with bezafibrate and gemfibrozil support the hypothesis that these drugs may have a significant protective effect against cardiovascular disease. The thiazolidinedione group of insulin-sensitising drugs are PPARγ ligands, and these have beneficial effects on serum lipids in diabetic patients and have also been shown to inhibit the progression of atherosclerosis in animal models. However, their efficacy in the prevention of cardiovascular-associated mortality has yet to be determined. Recent studies have found that PPARδ is also a regulator of serum lipids. However, there are currently no drugs in clinical use that selectively activate this receptor. It is clear that all three forms of PPARs have mechanistically different modes of lipid lowering and that drugs currently available have not been optimised on the basis of PPAR biology. A new generation of rationally designed PPAR ligands may provide substantially improved drugs for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
- Lipid-lowering drugs
- Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors