'Striking the Right Balance' in Targeting PPARgamma in the Metabolic Syndrome: Novel Insights from Human Genetic Studies.

03 Oct 2017

At a time when the twin epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes threaten to engulf even the most well-resourced Western healthcare systems, the nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) has emerged as a bona fide therapeutic target for treating human metabolic disease. The novel insulin-sensitizing antidiabetic thiazolidinediones (TZDs, e.g., rosiglitazone, pioglitazone), which are licensed for use in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, are high-affinity PPARgamma ligands, whose beneficial effects extend beyond improvement in glycaemic control to include amelioration of dyslipidaemia, lowering of blood pressure, and favourable modulation of macrophage lipid handling and inflammatory responses. However, a major drawback to the clinical use of exisiting TZDs is weight gain, reflecting both enhanced adipogenesis and fluid retention, neither of which is desirable in a population that is already overweight and prone to cardiovascular disease. Accordingly, the "search is on" to identify the next generation of PPARgamma modulators that will promote maximal clinical benefit by targeting specific facets of the metabolic syndrome (glucose intolerance/diabetes, dyslipidaemia, and hypertension), while simultaneously avoiding undesirable side effects of PPARgamma activation (e.g., weight gain). This paper outlines the important clinical and laboratory observations made in human subjects harboring genetic variations in PPARgamma that support such a therapeutic strategy.