, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 83-92

The role of fibric acids in atherosclerosis

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The hypolipidemic fibric acid drugs are peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor a (PPARα) ligands. PPARα activated by fibric acids form heterodimers with the 9-cis retinoic acid receptor (RXR). The PPAR/RXR heterodimers bind to peroxisome proliferator response elements (PPRE), which are located in numerous gene promoters and increase the level of the expression of mRNAs encoded by PPARα target genes. Fibric acids decrease triglyceride plasma levels through increases in the expression of genes involved in fatty acid-beta oxidation. Furthermore, they decrease triglycerides by increasing lipoprotein lipase gene expression and by decreasing apolipoprotein C-III gene expression. Fibric acids increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol partly by increasing apolipoprotein A-I and apolipoprotein A-II gene expression. Fibric acids also reduce vascular wall inflammation and the expression of genes involved in different vascular functions (ie, vasomotricity, thrombosis). Fibric acids are used to treat primary hypertriglyceridemia and mixed hyperlipidemia. Some fibric acid molecules are active in essential hypercholesterolemia. Clinical evidence shows that fibric acids reduce coronary atherosclerosis progression in dyslipidemic patients (eg, bezafibrate, gemfibrozil) and in type 2 diabetic patients (fenofibrate). Gemfibrozil decreases coronary morbidity and mortality in patients with low HDL cholesterol, normal triglycerides, and normal low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol plasma levels. Further clinical studies are necessary to investigate if fibric acids decrease cardiovascular mortality in type 2 diabetes and in primary prevention of hypertriglyceridemia and hypolipidemia.