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Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-g agonists in atherosclerosis: current evidence and future directions

Aled W. Robertsa, Andrew Thomasb, Alan Reesa and Marc Evansa

Purpose of review
The prevalence of type 2 diabetes globally is reaching epidemic proportions. Type 2 diabetes is strongly associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Atherosclerosis is thought to arise as a result of a chronic inflammatory process within the arterial wall. Insulin resistance is central to the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes and may contribute to atherogenesis, either directly or through associated risk factors. The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-g agonists, the thiazolidinediones, pioglitazone and rosiglitazone, are insulin sensitizing agents, that are licensed for the management of hyperglycaemia. Growing evidence supports an array of additional effects of thiazolidinedione therapy, both immunomodulatory and antiinflammatory, which may attenuate atherogenesis in type 2 diabetes.

Recent findings: Studies have shown that thiazolidinedione therapy may lead to risk factor modulation in type 2 diabetes. Thiazolidinediones treatment has been shown to reduce blood pressure, modify the atherogenic lipid profile associated with type 2 diabetes, reduce microalbuminuria and ameliorate the prothrombotic diathesis. Further evidence suggests that thiazolidinediones therapy inhibits the inflammatory processes which may be involved in atherosclerotic plaque initiation, propagation and destabilization.

Summary: Modification of insulin resistance by thiazolidinedione therapy in type 2 diabetes and the range of pleiotropic effects may not only impact on incident type 2 diabetes, but also on associated cardiovascular disease. Numerous large clinical endpoint studies are under way to investigate these issues.

Keywords: atherosclerosis, PPARg, thazolidinediones, rosiglitazone, pioglitazone, troglitazone

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