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Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2006 Mar;15(3):243-50.

Recent findings concerning thiazolidinediones in the treatment of diabetes.

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Division of Endocrinology/Diabetes/Metabolism, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Thiazolidinediones (TZDs) are peroxisomal proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-gamma agonists. They increase insulin action through several mechanisms including: stimulation of the expression of genes that increase fat oxidation and lower plasma free fatty acid levels; increased expression, synthesis and release of adiponectin; and stimulation of adipocyte differentiation resulting in more and smaller fat cells. TZDs lower blood sugar comparably to sulfonylureas and metformin. The clinical use of TZDs is limited due to the long duration of time required before they reach their full blood sugar-lowering action (3-4 months) and adverse effects such as fluid retention, resulting in excessive weight gain and occasionally in peripheral and/or pulmonary oedema and congestive heart failure. Troglitazone, a TZD that has since been removed from the market because of hepatoxicity, has been demonstrated to decrease the progression from normal or impaired glucose tolerance to overt Type 2 diabetes mellitus. Pioglitazone, another TZD, marginally decreased the incidence of cardiovascular complications in patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (PROactive trial). Other, as yet, unapproved uses of TZDs include: non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, in which TZDs reduced hepatic fat accumulation and improved liver function tests; polycystic ovary syndrome, where TZDs improved ovulation, hirsutism and endothelial dysfunction; and lipodystrophies, where TZDs increased body fat (marginally) and decrease liver size. Lastly, because PPAR-alpha and -gamma agonists improve atherosclerotic vascular disease and insulin sensitivity, respectively, dual PPAR-alpha/gamma agonists, which are currently undergoing clinical trials, may be useful in treating patients with the metabolic syndrome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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