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Researchers have found that fenofibrate, also known as Lofibra and TriCor, reduces the progression of diabetic retinopathy in humans. (Retinopathy occurs when 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 the ages of 50 and 75, half of whom received fenofibrate and the rest of whom received a placebo. After five years of follow-up, there was a 31 percent reduction in need for laser therapy to treat diabetic retinopathy in the fenofibrate patients. The researchers believe that fenofibrate may work its magic 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 the accumulation of fat inside artery walls. Fibrates activate PPARs (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors), which cause transcription of genes that help lipid metabolism. They also appear to have a beneficial effect on insulin resistance associated with the metabolic syndrome.
Interestingly, fibrates are structurally and pharmacologically related to thiazolidinediones, a class of diabetes drug that also acts on PPARs.
Sources: MedlinePlus, November 2007; Wikipedia
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