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Diabetes. 2001 May;50(5):1166-70.

Troglitazone treatment increases plasma vascular endothelial growth factor in diabetic patients and its mRNA in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.

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  • 1Third Department of Internal Medicine, Yamaguchi University School of Medicine, Japan.


Troglitazone is one of the thiazolidinediones, a new class of oral antidiabetic compounds that are ligands of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma. This study on vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), also known as vascular permeability factor, was prompted by our clinical observation that the characteristics of troglitazone-induced edema were very similar to those caused by vascular hyperpermeability. When Japanese diabetic patients were screened for plasma VEGF, we found levels to be significantly (P < 0.001) increased in troglitazone-treated subjects (120.1 +/- 135.0 pg/ml, n = 30) compared with those treated with diet alone (29.2 +/- 36.1 pg/ml, n = 10), sulfonylurea (25.8 +/- 22.2 pg/ml, n = 10), or insulin (24.6 +/- 19.0 pg/ml, n = 10). Involvement of troglitazone in increased VEGF levels was further supported by the plasma VEGF levels in five patients before treatment (20.2 +/- 7.0 pg/ml), after 3 months of troglitazone treatment (83.6 +/- 65.9 pg/ml), and 3 months after discontinuation (28.0 +/- 11.6 pg/ml). We further demonstrated that troglitazone, as well as rosiglitazone, at the plasma concentrations observed in patients, increased VEGF mRNA levels in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. VEGF is an angiogenic and mitogenic factor and is currently considered the most likely cause of neovascularization and hyperpermeability in diabetic proliferative retinopathy. Although increased VEGF may be beneficial for subjects with macroangiopathy and troglitazone is currently not available for clinical use, vascular complications, especially diabetic retinopathy, must be followed with great caution in subjects treated with thiazolidinediones.

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