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PPAR Alpha & Natural Ways to Activate it

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Reviewed by Nattha Wannissorn, PhD (Molecular Genetics) | Last updated:

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PPAR alpha is a very important protein for metabolizing fat and for weight loss.

Intro to PPAR-alpha


I’ve spoken about PPAR gamma. This post is about its related kin PPAR alpha, which has somewhat different effects.

PPAR-alpha is a protein (transcription factor) that increases fat breakdown in the liver and elsewhere. A good metabolism is important for energy production.

PPAR-alpha alters the expression of a large number of genes.

PPAR-alpha is activated under conditions of calorie restriction and is necessary for the process of ketogenesis, a key adaptive response to prolonged fasting.

PPAR-alpha is mainly found in the liver and brown fat, followed by the heart and kidney. Lower PPAR-alpha expression levels are found in the small and large intestine, muscle and adrenal gland.

The Benefits of PPAR Alpha


Core Function

Activation of PPAR-alpha promotes uptake, utilization, and breakdown of fatty acids by increasing genes involved in fatty acid transport, binding, activation, and oxidation.

Besides increasing fat utilization, it increases glucose production and bile synthesis/secretion [1].

PPAR-alpha is critical for normal responses to fastingWithout PPARa, there are major metabolic disturbances including low levels of ketone bodies, hypoglycemia, and fatty liver.

PPAR alpha helps with the detoxification of drugs and toxins [2].


PPAR alpha is protective against heart disease by inhibiting macrophage inflammation and increasing cholesterol efflux (via LXR and ABCA1) [3].

PPAR alpha activators have been shown to improve animal models of multiple sclerosis (EAE) [4].

Interesting Mechanisms

PPAR-a inhibits COX2 [5].

PPAR-a can help increase IGF-1, which will help you build muscle. Mice without PPAR-alpha have 40% less IGF-1 [6].

PPAR alpha increases UCP-3 [7], which is important for fat loss. This and other mechanisms make PPAR alpha important for fat loss.

PPAR alpha increases MTHFR gene production [8].

PPAR alpha increases PXR [9], FGF-21 [10], CPT1A [11], HNF4, Catalase, and LXRABCA1 [12], UCP3 [13], MTP, FATP, MDR2 [14], SREBP1c [15].

Males vs Females: PPAR Alpha Increases Th2 Immunity and Suppresses Th1 Immunity


Males are more prone to Th17 dominance, while females are more prone to Th1 dominance [16].

This is because Androgens increase PPAR alpha, which causes inhibition of Th1 dominance. At the same time, men have lower PPAR gamma, which leads to Th17 dominance [16].

To some extent, Th1 and Th17 ‘compete’ with each other. IL-2 produced by Th1 cells activates STAT5, which competes with STAT3 (which produces Th17 dominance) [16].

PPAR Alpha Negatives

PPAR-a causes insulin resistance in the liver [14].

As mentioned, PPAR alpha can increase Th17 dominance [16].

How to Increase PPAR Alpha

Omega-6/Linoleic acid metabolites/Arachidonic acid, as well as other polyunsaturated fatty acids, are the main ways we naturally activate PPAR alpha [1].

This is probably why omega-6’s have some benefits in various studies. It’s good to get a good balance of DHA/EPA, MUFAs and Omega 6’s, with some saturated fat (not excess like some paleo recommends).

Unlike PPAR gamma, PPAR alpha has been found to be activated by both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, such as oleic acid, palmitic acid, linoleic acid, and arachidonic acid [17].

PPAR alpha is also stimulated by stress, cortisol, and insulin [18].

Circadian Control of PPAR Alpha

PPAR alpha has a circadian rhythm in several organs, including the heart, muscles, liver, and kidney [18].

PPAR alpha is controlled by the circadian CLOCK and BMAL1 genes. PPAR alpha increases BMAL1 and BMAL1 increases PPAR alpha [18].

PPAR alpha directly regulates the gene activity of Bmal1 and Rev-erb alphaPer2 interacts with nuclear receptors including PPAR alpha and Rev-Erb alpha and serves as a co-regulator of nuclear receptor-mediated transcription [18].

Drugs that increase PPAR alpha also increase the production of and reset circadian expression of Bmal1, Per2, and Rev-erb alpha in mouse livers. These drugs can phase advance the rhythmic expression (cause it to start earlier) of Bmal1, Per2, and Rev-erb alpha in several mouse peripheral tissues [18].

PPAR Alpha Inhibitors

  • Sun/UVB [22]
  • Iodine decreases expression [44]

PPAR Alpha Gene

SelfDecode is the best gene analyzer around and helps you interpret your genetics.

Check out SelfDecode to see if you have these genes.

  1. RS135551 (PPARA)
  2. RS1800206 (PPARA)
  3. RS4253655 (PPARA)
  4. RS4253728 (PPARA)
  5. RS4823613 (PPARA)

If you want to interpret your genes, you can put them into SelfDecode.

SelfDecode is a sister company of SelfHacked. The proceeds from your purchase of this product are reinvested into our research and development, in order to serve you better. Thank you for your support.

About the Author

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen, BS

As a kid, Joe suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, mood and other issues that were poorly understood in both conventional and alternative medicine. Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a journey of self-experimentation and self-learning to improve his health--something that has since become known as “biohacking”. With thousands of experiments and pubmed articles under his belt, Joe founded SelfHacked, the resource that was missing when he needed it. SelfHacked now gets millions of monthly readers. Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, author and speaker. He is the CEO and founder of SelfDecode. His mission is to help people gain access to the most up-to-date, unbiased, and science-based ways to optimize their health.


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