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Diabetes Metab J. 2011 Aug;35(4):340-7. doi: 10.4093/dmj.2011.35.4.340. Epub 2011 Aug 31.

Effects of Sulfonylureas on Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor γ Activity and on Glucose Uptake by Thiazolidinediones.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



Sulfonylurea primarily stimulates insulin secretion by binding to its receptor on the pancreatic β-cells. Recent studies have suggested that sulfonylureas induce insulin sensitivity through peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ), one of the nuclear receptors. In this study, we investigated the effects of sulfonylurea on PPARγ transcriptional activity and on the glucose uptake via PPARγ.


Transcription reporter assays using Cos7 cells were performed to determine if specific sulfonylureas stimulate PPARγ transactivation. Glimepiride, gliquidone, and glipizide (1 to 500 µM) were used as treatment, and rosiglitazone at 1 and 10 µM was used as a control. The effects of sulfonylurea and rosiglitazone treatments on the transcriptional activity of endogenous PPARγ were observed. In addition, 3T3-L1 adipocytes were treated with rosiglitazone (10 µM), glimepiride (100 µM) or both to verify the effect of glimepiride on rosiglitazone-induced glucose uptake.


Sulfonylureas, including glimepiride, gliquidone and glipizide, increased PPARγ transcriptional activity, gliquidone being the most potent PPARγ agonist. However, no additive effects were observed in the presence of rosiglitazone. When rosiglitazone was co-treated with glimepiride, PPARγ transcriptional activity and glucose uptake were reduced compared to those after treatment with rosiglitazone alone. This competitive effect of glimepiride was observed only at high concentrations that are not achieved with clinical doses.


Sulfonylureas like glimepiride, gliquidone and glipizide increased the transcriptional activity of PPARγ. Also, glimepiride was able to reduce the effect of rosiglitazone on PPARγ agonistic activity and glucose uptake. However, the competitive effect does not seem to occur at clinically feasible concentrations.


Diabetes mellitus, type 2; PPAR gamma; Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors; Sulfonylurea compounds; Thiazolidinediones

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