In humans, the precise mechanisms of the hypolipidemic action of fenofibrate, a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α agonist, remain unclear. To gain insight on these mechanisms, we measured plasma lipids levels, lipids synthesis (hepatic de novo lipogenesis and cholesterol synthesis), and mRNA concentrations in circulating mononuclear cells (RT-PCR) of hydroxymethylglutaryl (HMG)-CoA reductase, LDL receptor, LDL receptor- related protein (LRP), scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI), ABCAI, and liver X receptor (LXR)-α in 10 control subjects and 9 hyperlipidemic type 2 diabetic patients. Type 2 diabetic subjects were studied before and after 4 months of fenofibrate administration. Fenofibrate decreased plasma triglycerides (P < 0.01) and total cholesterol (P < 0.05) concentrations and slightly increased HDL cholesterol (P < 0.05). Hepatic lipogenesis, largely enhanced in diabetic subjects (16.1 ± 2.1 vs. 7.5 ± 1.6% in control subjects, P < 0.01), was decreased by fenofibrate (9.8 ± 1.5%, P < 0.01). Fractional cholesterol synthesis was normal in diabetic subjects (3.5 ± 0.4 vs. 3.3 ± 0.5% in control subjects) and was unchanged by fenofibrate (3.5 ± 0.5%). Absolute cholesterol synthesis was, however, increased in diabetic subjects before and after fenofibrate (P < 0.05 vs. control subjects). HMG-CoA reductase, LDL receptor, LRP, and SR-BI mRNA concentrations were not different in type 2 diabetic and control subjects and were unchanged by fenofibrate. LXR-α mRNA levels were increased (P < 0.05) by fenofibrate. ABCAI mRNA concentrations, which were decreased in diabetic subjects (P < 0.05) before fenofibrate, were increased (P < 0.05) by fenofibrate to values comparable to those of control subjects. The plasma triglyceride-lowering effect of fenofibrate is explained in part by a decrease in hepatic lipogenesis, the moderate fall in total plasma cholesterol is not explained by a reduction of whole-body cholesterol synthesis, and the increase in LXR-α and ABCAI mRNA levels suggests that fenofibrate stimulated reverse cholesterol transport.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to M. Beylot, MD, INSERM U 499, faculté RTH Laennec, Rue G Paradin, 69008 Lyon, France. E-mail:.
Received for publication 4 June 2002 and accepted in revised form 6 September 2002.
ASR, absolute synthetic rate; DNL, de novo lipogenesis; FFA, free fatty acid; FSR, fractional synthetic rate; HMG, hydroxymethylglutaryl; LPL, lipoprotein lipase; LRP, LDL receptor-related protein; LXR, liver X receptor; PPAR, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor; SR-BI, scavenger receptor class B type I.