The peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPARS) and their effects on lipid metabolism and adipocyte differentiation

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1996 Jul 26;1302(2):93-109. doi: 10.1016/0005-2760(96)00066-5.


The three types of peroxisome proliferator activated receptor (PPAR), alpha, beta (or delta), and gamma, each with a specific tissue distribution, compose a subfamily of the nuclear hormone receptor gene family. Although peroxisome proliferators, including fibrates and fatty acids, activate the transcriptional activity of these receptors, only prostaglandin J2 derivatives have been identified as natural ligands of the PPAR gamma subtype, which also binds thiazolidinedione antidiabetic agents with high affinity. Activated PPARs heterodimerize with RXR and alter the transcription of target genes after binding to specific response elements or PPREs, consisting of a direct repeat of the nuclear receptor hexameric DNA core recognition motif spaced by one nucleotide. The different PPARs can be considered key messengers responsible for the translation of nutritional, pharmacological and metabolic stimuli into changes in the expression of genes, more specifically those genes involved in lipid metabolism. PPAR alpha is involved in stimulating beta-oxidation of fatty acids. In rodents, a PPAR alpha-mediated change in the expression of genes involved in fatty acid metabolism lies at the basis of the phenomenon of peroxisome proliferation, a pleiotropic cellular response, mainly limited to liver and kidney and which can lead to hepatocarcinogenesis. In addition to their role in peroxisome proliferation in rodents, PPAR is also involved in the control of HDL cholesterol levels by fibrates and fatty acids in rodents and humans. This effect is, at least partially, based on a PPAR-mediated transcriptional regulation of the major HDL apolipoproteins, apo A-I and apo A-II. The hypotriglyceridemic action of fibrates and fatty acids also involves PPARs and can be summarized as follows: (1) an increased lipolysis and clearance of remnant particles, due to changes in LPL and apo C-III levels, (2) a stimulation of cellular fatty acid uptake and their conversion to acyl-CoA derivatives by the induction of FAT, FATP and ACS activity, (3) an induction of fatty acid beta-oxidation pathways, (4) a reduction in fatty acid and triglyceride synthesis, and finally (5) a decrease in VLDL production. Hence, both enhanced catabolism of triglyceride-rich particles as well as reduced secretion of VLDL particles are mechanisms that contribute to the hypolipidemic effect of fibrates and FFAs. Whereas for PPAR beta no function so far has been identified, PPAR gamma triggers adipocyte differentiation by inducing the expression of several genes critical for adipogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / cytology*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Microbodies / ultrastructure
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / chemistry
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*


  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Transcription Factors