Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) agonists, including the glitazone class of drugs, are insulin sensitizers that reduce glucose and lipid levels in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. To more fully understand the molecular mechanisms underlying their therapeutic actions, we have characterized the effects of the potent, tyrosine-based PPARγ ligand GW1929 on serum glucose and lipid parameters and gene expression in Zucker diabetic fatty rats. In time-course studies, GW1929 treatment decreased circulating FFA levels before reducing glucose and triglyceride levels. We used a comprehensive and unbiased messenger RNA profiling technique to identify genes regulated either directly or indirectly by PPARγ in epididymal white adipose tissue, interscapular brown adipose tissue, liver, and soleus skeletal muscle. PPARγ activation stimulated the expression of a large number of genes involved in lipogenesis and fatty acid metabolism in both white adipose tissue and brown adipose tissue. In muscle, PPARγ agonist treatment decreased the expression of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4, which represses oxidative glucose metabolism, and also decreased the expression of genes involved in fatty acid transport and oxidation. These changes suggest a molecular basis for PPARγ-mediated increases in glucose utilization in muscle. In liver, PPARγ activation coordinately decreased the expression of genes involved in gluconeogenesis. We conclude from these studies that the antidiabetic actions of PPARγ agonists are probably the consequence of 1) their effects on FFA levels, and 2), their coordinate effects on gene expression in multiple insulin-sensitive tissues.
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