PPARα agonist fenofibrate enhances fatty acid β-oxidation and attenuates polycystic kidney and liver disease in mice

Ronak Lakhia, Matanel Yheskel, Andrea Flaten, Ezekiel B. Quittner-Strom, William L. Holland, Vishal Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα) is a nuclear hormone receptor that promotes fatty acid β-oxidation (FAO) and oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). We and others have recently shown that PPARα and its target genes are downregulated, and FAO and OXPHOS are impaired in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). However, whether PPARα and FAO/OXPHOS are causally linked to ADPKD progression is not entirely clear. We report that expression of PPARα and FAO/OXPHOS genes is downregulated, and in vivo β-oxidation rate of3H-labeled triolein is reduced in Pkd1RC/RC mice, a slowly progressing orthologous model of ADPKD that closely mimics the human ADPKD phenotype. To evaluate the effects of upregulating PPARα, we conducted a 5-mo, randomized, preclinical trial by treating Pkd1RC/RC mice with fenofibrate, a clinically available PPARα agonist. Fenofibrate treatment resulted in increased expression of PPARα and FAO/OXPHOS genes, upregulation of peroxisomal and mitochondrial biogenesis markers, and higher β-oxidation rates in Pkd1RC/RC kidneys. MRI-assessed total kidney volume and total cyst volume, kidney-weight-to-body-weight ratio, cyst index, and serum creatinine levels were significantly reduced in fenofibrate-treated compared with untreated littermate Pkd1RC/RC mice. Moreover, fenofibrate treatment was associated with reduced kidney cyst proliferation and infiltration by inflammatory cells, including M2-like macrophages. Finally, fenofibrate treatment also reduced bile duct cyst number, cyst proliferation, and liver inflammation and fibrosis. In conclusion, our studies suggest that promoting PPARα activity to enhance mitochondrial metabolism may be a useful therapeutic strategy for ADPKD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F122-F131
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Fatty acid oxidation
  • Fenofibrate
  • Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α
  • Polycystic kidney disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology


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