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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Mechanism of action of gemfibrozil on lipoprotein metabolism.

Gemfibrozil is a potent lipid regulating drug whose major effects are to increase plasma high density lipoproteins (HDL) and to decrease plasma triglycerides (TG) in a wide variety of primary and secondary dyslipoproteinemias. Its mechanism of action is not clear. Six patients with primary familial endogenous hypertriglyceridemia with fasting chylomicronemia (type V lipoprotein phenotype) with concurrent subnormal HDL cholesterol levels (HDL deficiency) were treated initially by diet and once stabilized, were given gemfibrozil (1,200 mg/d). Each patient was admitted to the Clinical Research Center with metabolic kitchen facilities, for investigation of HDL and TG metabolism immediately before and after 8 wk of gemfibrozil treatment. Gemfibrozil significantly increased plasma HDL cholesterol, apolipoprotein (apo) AI, and apo AII by 36%, 29%, and 38% from base line, respectively. Plasma TG decreased by 54%. Kinetics of apo AI and apo AII metabolism were assessed by analysis of the specific radioactivity decay curves after injection of autologous HDL labeled with 125I. Gemfibrozil increased synthetic rates of apo AI and apo AII by 27% and 34%, respectively, without changing the fractional catabolic rates. Stimulation of apo AI and apo AII synthesis by gemfibrozil was associated with the appearance in plasma of smaller (and heavier) HDL particles as assessed by gradient gel electrophoresis and HDL composition. Postheparin extra-hepatic lipoprotein lipase activity increased significantly by 25% after gemfibrozil, and was associated with the appearance in plasma of smaller very low density lipoprotein particles whose apo CIII:CII ratio was decreased. These data suggest that gemfibrozil increases plasma HDL levels by stimulating their synthesis. Increased transport (turnover) of HDL induced by gemfibrozil may be significant in increasing tissue cholesterol removal in these patients.[1]


  1. Mechanism of action of gemfibrozil on lipoprotein metabolism. Saku, K., Gartside, P.S., Hynd, B.A., Kashyap, M.L. J. Clin. Invest. (1985) [Pubmed]
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