The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha agonist fenofibrate has no effect on insulin sensitivity compared to atorvastatin in type 2 diabetes mellitus; a randomised, double-blind controlled trial

J Diabetes Complications. May-Jun 2014;28(3):323-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2014.01.001. Epub 2014 Jan 8.


Aims: Assess insulin sensitivity after treatment with a selective PPAR-alpha agonist compared to an HMG CoA reductase inhibitor in human subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Methods: Thirteen subjects with Type 2 diabetes mellitus were studied in a double-blind crossover design with 4-week placebo run-in and washout and 12-week treatment periods, randomised to micronised fenofibrate 267 mg or atorvastatin 10mg daily followed by the alternate drug in the second period. Insulin resistance was measured using the isoglycaemic hyperinsulinaemic clamp method with isotope dilution.

Results: Weight, physical activity and other medications did not change. Total cholesterol (mean +/- standard error) was 4.60+/-0.21 versus 3.9+/-0.22 mmol/L after fenofibrate and atorvastatin respectively, p<0.05. LDL was 2.70+/-0.19 versus 1.95+/-0.23 mmol/L, p<0.05 and triglyceride 1.64+/-0.23 versus 1.84+/-0.26 mmol/L, p<0.05. Insulin-stimulated whole-body glucose disposal (35.4+/-3.1 versus 33.2+/-3.0 μmol/kg/min) and nadir endogenous glucose production (6.2+/-1.4 versus 7.0+/-1.1 μmol/kg/min) revealed no significant differences in effects of the treatments.

Conclusions: In human subjects with Type 2 diabetes mellitus there were characteristic differences in lipid profile changes but no difference in insulin sensitivity after treatment with micronised fenofibrate compared to atorvastatin. This study finds no evidence of increased insulin sensitivity using this selective PPAR-alpha agonist over a commonly used statin at these doses.

Keywords: Fibrate; Insulin resistance; Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha; Statin; Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Atorvastatin
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fenofibrate / pharmacology*
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Heptanoic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • PPAR alpha / agonists*
  • Pyrroles / pharmacology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Heptanoic Acids
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • PPAR alpha
  • Pyrroles
  • Cholesterol
  • Atorvastatin
  • Fenofibrate