Pioglitazone reduces atherogenic dense LDL particles in nondiabetic patients with arterial hypertension: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study

Diabetes Care. 2003 Sep;26(9):2588-94. doi: 10.2337/diacare.26.9.2588.


Objective: The oral antidiabetic agent pioglitazone improves insulin sensitivity and glycemic control and appears to lower atherogenic dense LDL in type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance may occur frequently in nondiabetic patients with hypertension. This study is the first to report the effect of pioglitazone on LDL subfractions in normolipidemic, nondiabetic patients with arterial hypertension.

Research design and methods: We performed a monocentric, double-blind, randomized, parallel-group comparison of 45 mg pioglitazone (n = 26) and a placebo (n = 28), each given once daily for 16 weeks. Fifty-four moderately hypertensive patients (LDL cholesterol, 2.8 +/- 0.8 mmol/l; HDL cholesterol, 1.1 +/- 0.3 mmol/l; triglycerides, 1.4 mmol/l (median; range 0.5-7.1) were studied at baseline and on treatment.

Results: At baseline, dense LDLs were elevated (apolipoprotein [apo]B in LDL-5 plus LDL-6 >250 mg/l) in 63% of all patients. Sixteen weeks of treatment with pioglitazone did not significantly change triglycerides, total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol. However, pioglitazone reduced dense LDLs by 22% (P = 0.024). The mean diameter of LDL particles increased from 19.83 +/- 0.30 to 20.13 +/- 0.33 nm (P < 0.001 vs. placebo), whereas the mean LDL density decreased from 1.0384 +/- 0.0024 to 1.0371 +/- 0.0024 kg/l (P = 0.005 vs. placebo). The effect of pioglitazone on LDL size and density was independent of fasting triglycerides and HDL cholesterol at baseline and of changes in fasting triglycerides and HDL cholesterol.

Conclusions: The prevalence of atherogenic dense LDL in nondiabetic, hypertensive patients is similar to patients with type 2 diabetes. Pioglitazone significantly reduces dense LDL independent from fasting triglycerides and HDL cholesterol. The antiatherogenic potential of pioglitazone may thus be greater than that expected from its effects on triglycerides, LDL, and HDL cholesterol alone.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arteriosclerosis / prevention & control*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / blood*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood*
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / drug effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pioglitazone
  • Placebos
  • Thiazolidinediones / therapeutic use*
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Placebos
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Triglycerides
  • Pioglitazone