To compare the molecular and biologic signatures of a balanced dual peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-α/γ agonist, aleglitazar, with tesaglitazar (a dual PPAR-α/γ agonist) or a combination of pioglitazone (Pio; PPAR-γ agonist) and fenofibrate (Feno; PPAR-α agonist) in human hepatocytes.
Methods and Results
Gene expression microarray profiles were obtained from primary human hepatocytes treated with EC50-aligned low, medium and high concentrations of the three treatments. A systems biology approach, Causal Network Modeling, was used to model the data to infer upstream molecular mechanisms that may explain the observed changes in gene expression. Aleglitazar, tesaglitazar and Pio/Feno each induced unique transcriptional signatures, despite comparable core PPAR signaling. Although all treatments inferred qualitatively similar PPAR-α signaling, aleglitazar was inferred to have greater effects on high- and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels than tesaglitazar and Pio/Feno, due to a greater number of gene expression changes in pathways related to high-density and low-density lipoprotein metabolism. Distinct transcriptional and biologic signatures were also inferred for stress responses, which appeared to be less affected by aleglitazar than the comparators. In particular, Pio/Feno was inferred to increase NFE2L2 activity, a key component of the stress response pathway, while aleglitazar had no significant effect. All treatments were inferred to decrease proliferative signaling.
Aleglitazar induces transcriptional signatures related to lipid parameters and stress responses that are unique from other dual PPAR-α/γ treatments. This may underlie observed favorable changes in lipid profiles in animal and clinical studies with aleglitazar and suggests a differentiated gene profile compared with other dual PPAR-α/γ agonist treatments.