The role of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors in healthy and diseased eyes

Paulina Escandon, Brenda Vasini, Amy E. Whelchel, Sarah E. Nicholas, H. Greg Matlock, Jian Xing Ma, Dimitrios Karamichos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors (PPARs) are a family of nuclear receptors that play essential roles in modulating cell differentiation, inflammation, and metabolism. Three subtypes of PPARs are known: PPAR-alpha (PPARα), PPAR-gamma (PPARγ), and PPAR-beta/delta (PPARβ/δ). PPARα activation reduces lipid levels and regulates energy homeostasis, activation of PPARγ results in regulation of adipogenesis, and PPARβ/δ activation increases fatty acid metabolism and lipolysis. PPARs are linked to various diseases, including but not limited to diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, glaucoma and atherosclerosis. In the past decade, numerous studies have assessed the functional properties of PPARs in the eye and key PPAR mechanisms have been discovered, particularly regarding the retina and cornea. PPARγ and PPARα are well established in their functions in ocular homeostasis regarding neuroprotection, neovascularization, and inflammation, whereas PPARβ/δ isoform function remains understudied. Naturally, studies on PPAR agonists and antagonists, associated with ocular pathology, have also gained traction with the development of PPAR synthetic ligands. Studies on PPARs has significantly influenced novel therapeutics for diabetic eye disease, ocular neuropathy, dry eye, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In this review, therapeutic potentials and implications will be highlighted, as well as reported adverse effects. Further investigations are necessary before any of the PPARs ligands can be utilized, in the clinics, to treat eye diseases. Future research on the prominent role of PPARs will help unravel the complex mechanisms involved in order to prevent and treat ocular diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108617
JournalExperimental eye research
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Diabetic keratopathy
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Eye
  • Fibrates
  • Ocular disease
  • Ocular neuropathy
  • Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors
  • Thiazolidinedione


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