PPAR Gamma Receptor: A Novel Target to Improve Morbidity in Preterm Babies

Suresh Victor*, Ben Forbes, Anne Greenough, David Edwards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Worldwide, three-quarters of a million babies are born extremely preterm (<28 weeks gestation) with devastating outcomes: 20% die in the newborn period, a further 35% develop bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), and 10% suffer from cerebral palsy. Pioglitazone, a Peroxisome Proliferator Activated Receptor Gamma (PPARγ) agonist, may reduce the incidence of BPD and improve neurodevelopment in extreme preterm babies. Pioglitazone exerts an anti-inflammatory action mediated through Nuclear Factor-kappa B repression. PPARγ signalling is underactive in preterm babies as adiponectin remains low during the neonatal period. In newborn animal models, pioglitazone has been shown to be protective against BPD, necrotising enterocolitis, and lipopolysaccharide-induced brain injury. Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms of PPARγ are associated with inhibited preterm brain development and impaired neurodevelopment. Pioglitazone was well tolerated by the foetus in reproductive toxicology experiments. Bladder cancer, bone fractures, and macular oedema, seen rarely in adults, may be avoided with a short treatment course. The other effects of pioglitazone, including improved glycaemic control and lipid metabolism, may provide added benefit in the context of prematurity. Currently, there is no formulation of pioglitazone suitable for administration to preterm babies. A liquid formulation of pioglitazone needs to be developed before clinical trials. The potential benefits are likely to outweigh any anticipated safety concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1530
Pages (from-to)1530
Number of pages11
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2023


  • pioglitazone
  • PPAR gamma agonists
  • bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • Prematurity


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