The aim of this in vitro study was to investigate the effect of troglitazone, a new oral antidiabetic agent, on LDL catabolism. HepG2 cells, which are cells from a well-differentiated cell line of hepatoma cells, were cultured and used to study LDL catabolism. Different concentrations of troglitazone, all within the therapeutic range for humans, were incubated in culture medium with 125I-labeled LDL to measure cell-associated and degraded 125I-LDL. Troglitazone increased cell-associated and degraded 125I-LDL by ∼30%. We also investigated if this effect occurred through a LDL receptor- mediated pathway or a non-LDL receptor pathway. By using dextran sulfate, a substance known to release bound LDL from its receptor, we found that troglitazone upregulated LDL receptor activity by ∼35%. In addition, we found that troglitazone increased the expression of the LDL receptor mRNA. The effect of troglitazone was comparable with that of a 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitor, fluvastatin, with troglitazone having an upregulatory effect similar to that of fluvastatin. Insulin within human physiological concentrations also increased LDL receptor activity. We found that troglitazone and insulin had an additive effect on LDL catabolism. Also, the effect of troglitazone on LDL catabolism was studied in the presence of cyclosporine, an immunosuppressant drug that reduces LDL catabolism mainly by decreasing LDL receptor activity. The results showed that troglitazone can compensate for the reduced LDL receptor activity induced by cyclosporine, but that cyclosporine had a residual effect on the action of troglitazone. Thus troglitazone enhanced LDL binding, cell association, and degradation by increasing LDL receptor mRNA expression, with a subsequent increase in LDL receptor activity.

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