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J Biol Chem. 1998 Nov 6;273(45):29577-85.

Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha-isoform deficiency leads to progressive dyslipidemia with sexually dimorphic obesity and steatosis.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Pharmacologie et Toxicologie, INRA, BP 3, 31931 Toulouse, Cedex 09 France.


The alpha-isoform of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPARalpha) is a nuclear transcription factor activated by structurally diverse chemicals referred to as peroxisome proliferators. Activators can be endogenous molecules (fatty acids/steroids) or xenobiotics (fibrate lipid-lowering drugs). Upon pharmacological activation, PPARalpha modulates target genes encoding lipid metabolism enzymes, lipid transporters, or apolipoproteins, suggesting a role in lipid homeostasis. Transgenic mice deficient in PPARalpha were shown to lack hepatic peroxisomal proliferation and have an impaired expression and induction of several hepatic target genes. Young adult males show hypercholesterolemia but normal triglycerides. Using a long term experimental set up, we identified these mice as a model of monogenic, spontaneous, late onset obesity with stable caloric intake and a marked sexual dimorphism. Serum triglycerides, elevated in aged animals, are higher in females that develop a more pronounced obesity than males. The latter show a marked and original centrilobular-restricted steatosis and a delayed occurrence of obesity. Fat cells from their liver express substantial levels of PPARgamma2 transcripts when compared with lean cells. These studies demonstrate, in rodents, the involvement of PPARalpha nuclear receptor in lipid homeostasis, with a sexually dimorphic control of circulating lipids, fat storage, and obesity. Characterization of this pathological link may help to delineate new molecular targets for therapeutic intervention and could lead to new insights into the etiology and heritability of mammalian obesity.

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