pan-ppar agonists

PPARS ARE BEING EXTENSIVELY INVESTIGATED IN THE TREATMENT OF NAFLD/NASH.

Anti-NASH agents must be at least neutral with respect to extrahepatic end-organ disease and outcomes.  PPARs are promising therapeutic options since:

  • PPARs regulate metabolism, inflammation and fibrosis, all of which determine NASH progression.
  • Both PPARα-β/δ dual agonism as well as PPARγ agonism have shown beneficial effects on liver histology in phase IIb clinical trials for NASH.
  • Single, dual and pan-PPAR agonists are under development for the pharmacological treatment of NASH


In light of current knowledge of the various functions of PPARs, it can be speculated that activation of PPARα, PPARβ/δ and PPARγ may be an effective therapeutic approach to prevent the development and progression of NASH through a combination of metabolic, anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic effects, thereby addressing a large spectrum of parameters involved in the disease along its continuum.

Given the hypoglycaemic, hypocholesterolaemic, antifibrotic, anti-inflammatory and vascular effects of PPARs, the use of agents that activate all three PPAR isoforms, so-called pan-PPAR agonists, is expected to lead to greater improvement in efficacy compared with targeting a single or dual PPAR isoform and may bring an innovative and efficacious therapeutic approach to prevent the development and progression of NASH, providing that side effects such as oedema, weight gain, bone fractures and cardiotoxicity observed with more selective PPAR agonists are absent or limited.

Lifestyle interventions

The close relationship between unhealthy lifestyle and NAFLD makes lifestyle correction mandatory in all patients, with the potential not only to improve liver disease, but also hyperglycaemia, atherogenic dyslipidaemia and high blood pressure. Relatively small amounts of weight loss reduce liver fat and improve hepatic insulin resistance.

Lifestyle interventions

Bariatric surgery is an efficient method to achieve significant weight loss, reverse insulin resistance, and reduce cardiovascular risk and long-term mortality. A meta-analysis on the effect of bariatric surgery in NAFLD revealed that the pooled proportion of patients with improvement or resolution was 91.6% for steatosis, 81.3% for steatohepatitis, 65.5% for fibrosis, and that 69.5% of patients experienced complete resolution of NASH. Nevertheless, the AASLD practice guidance states that while bariatric surgery can be considered in otherwise eligible patients with NAFLD or NASH, it is premature to consider it as an established option for the treatment of NASH.

PHARMACOTHERAPY: LACK OF APPROVED THERAPIES

European and U.S. guidelines recommend that pharmacotherapy should be reserved for patients with biopsy-proven NASH, particularly those with significant fibrosis (stage F2 and higher), but also those with early-stage NASH who are at high risk of disease progression. As yet, no drugs have been approved for treatment of NASH and thus any recommendation for pharmacological therapy is off label. However, the EASL-EASD-EASO guideline states that pioglitazone or vitamin E or their combination may be used for NASH.

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PPAR agonists currently or previously investigated for the treatment of NASH

PPAR
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