Cholesterol-Lowering Drug Lowers Risk of Diabetic Retinopathy Surgery

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Researchers have found that fenofibrate, also known as Lofibra and TriCor,reduces the progression of diabetic retinopathy in humans. (Retinopathy occurswhen the small blood vessels that supply the eye begin to leak and swell,resulting in progressive vision loss.)

To arrive at their findings, the researchers studied 9,795 type 2s between theages of 50 and 75, half of whom received fenofibrate and the rest of whomreceived a placebo. After five years of follow-up, there was a 31 percentreduction in need for laser therapy to treat diabetic retinopathy in thefenofibrate patients. The researchers believe that fenofibrate may work itsmagic via an anti-inflammatory or antioxidant effect.

Like other fibrates, fenofibrate reduces bad cholesterol (LDL and VLDL),increases healthy HDL levels, and lowers triglycerides, reducing theaccumulation of fat inside artery walls. Fibrates activate PPARs (peroxisomeproliferator-activated receptors), which cause transcription of genes that helplipid metabolism. They also appear to have a beneficial effect on insulinresistance associated with the metabolic syndrome.

Interestingly, fibrates are structurally and pharmacologically related tothiazolidinediones, a class of diabetes drug that also acts on PPARs.

Sources: MedlinePlus, November 2007; Wikipedia

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