The complex role of PPARgamma in renal dysfunction in obesity: managing a Janus-faced receptor

Vascul Pharmacol. 2006 Jul;45(1):36-45. doi: 10.1016/j.vph.2006.01.017. Epub 2006 May 22.


Obesity is frequently accompanied by insulin resistance, type II diabetes, hypertension and atherosclerosis, a cluster of pathologies that are the major components of the metabolic syndrome. Obesity is a known cause for renal dysfunction that leads to two major renal pathologies: hypertension and glomerular and tubulointerstitial injury. Peroxizome proliferator activated receptors (PPARs) are transcription factors belonging to the nuclear hormone receptor superfamily with important functions in the regulation of metabolism. The role of PPARgamma isoforms in adipogenesis and vascular inflammation associated to obesity has been vastly studied and is well recognized, albeit not completely mechanistically understood. Also, the effect of various PPARgamma agonists on blood pressure reduction in different forms of hypertension, including obesity related hypertension has been reported, but the mechanisms involved are only beginning to be studied. Even less clear is the concurrent beneficial effect of PPARgamma agonists thiazolinendiones (TZD) on blood pressure reduction in different forms of hypertension and, at the same time, in some cases, the significant water retention leading to edema and heart failure. The occurrence of both these apparently opposite effects on the renal water and sodium handling suggests a complex role of PPARgamma in the kidney that is likely related to the metabolic state. Also, PPARgamma activation leads to a reduction in mesangial cell proliferation while stimulating apoptosis. TZD treatment reduces albuminuria in obese and diabetic humans and rodent models suggesting protective effects against renal tubuloglomerular injury. The focus of this review is to present and critically discuss the recent findings on the roles of PPARgamma in the kidney in direct relation to renal function and renal injury in obesity and obesity-initiated diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antihypertensive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Hypertension / metabolism
  • Hypertension / physiopathology*
  • Kidney Diseases / drug therapy
  • Kidney Diseases / metabolism
  • Kidney Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Kidney Tubules / drug effects
  • Kidney Tubules / metabolism
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • PPAR gamma / agonists
  • PPAR gamma / metabolism*
  • Sodium / metabolism
  • Thiazolidinediones / pharmacology
  • Thiazolidinediones / therapeutic use
  • Water / metabolism


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • PPAR gamma
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Water
  • Sodium