The effects of troglitazone, an insulin-sensitizing agent, on the endothelial function in early and late type 2 diabetes: a placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial

Metabolism. 2003 Feb;52(2):173-80. doi: 10.1053/meta.2003.50023.


Activation of the peroxisome proliferator-activator receptor gamma (PPARgamma) improves insulin resistance and glycemic control in patients with diabetes. As PPARgamma is expressed in the endothelial cell, we have investigated the effect of troglitazone, a PPARgamma activator, on the endothelial function in people with type 2 diabetes in a 12-week, prospective, randomized, double-blinded clinical trial. We studied 87 type 2 diabetic patients who were divided into 3 groups. Group A consisted of 27 patients with recently diagnosed diabetes and no clinical manifestations of macrovascular disease; group B, 29 patients with long-term diabetes and no clinically evident macrovascular disease; and group C, 31 diabetic patients with documented macrovascular disease (cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, or peripheral vascular disease). High-resolution ultrasound images were used to measure the flow-mediated dilation (FMD, endothelium-dependent) and nitroglycerin-induced dilation (NID, endothelium-independent) in the brachial artery. Laser Doppler perfusion imaging was used to measure vasodilation in the forearm skin in response to iontophoresis of 1% acetylcholine (Ach, endothelium-dependent) and 1% sodium nitroprusside (NaNP, endothelium-independent). The plasma concentrations of von Willebrand factor (vWF), soluble intercellular adhesion molecule (sICAM), and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule (sVCAM) were also measured as indicators of endothelial cell activation. The FMD improved in the troglitazone-treated patients in group A (7.72 +/- 3.4 v 5.27 +/- 2.0, P <.05 [exit visit v baseline, percent of increase in brachial artery diameter, mean +/- SD]). The fasting insulin level also improved in this group (15.6 +/- 10 v 19.7 +/- 10, P <.05) and was strongly correlated to changes in FMD (r = -.73, P <.01). No changes were found in the FMD or the fasting insulin levels in the troglitazone-treated patients in groups B or C. The NID was not changed by troglitazone treatment in any of the 3 groups. Also, no differences were found in the microcirculation reactivity measurements or in the biochemical markers of endothelial dysfunction in all 3 groups. A small, but significant, improvement of the FMD was found in placebo-treated patients in group B, probably related to the low FMD levels at baseline in the patients (5.40 +/- 3.0 v 4.36 +/- 2.4, P <.05). We concluded that troglitazone treatment for 12 weeks improved endothelial function in the macrocirculation of patients with recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes and no clinical evidence of macrovascular disease. This improvement was strongly associated with the improvement of fasting plasma insulin concentrations.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Chromans / adverse effects
  • Chromans / therapeutic use*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / drug therapy
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / physiopathology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology*
  • Fasting / blood
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Placebos
  • Thiazoles / adverse effects
  • Thiazoles / therapeutic use*
  • Thiazolidinediones*
  • Time Factors
  • Troglitazone


  • Chromans
  • Insulin
  • Placebos
  • Thiazoles
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Troglitazone