Drugs that target the nuclear hormone receptor family constitute one of the largest and most potent groups of pharmaceuticals currently in use. However, although many of these human nuclear receptors have been clearly demonstrated to be key sensors and regulators of lipid metabolism, the full pharmacological potential of this drug target class has not been fully explored. There are two main reasons for this. First, a rationale approach is needed to identify pharmacologically selective drug candidates to nuclear receptors that have a large therapeutic window between the beneficial effects and the unwanted side effects. This appears to apply to all ligand-regulated nuclear receptors, including those nuclear receptors more recently proposed as novel targets for diseases related to lipid metabolism such as the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, liver X receptors and farnesoid X-activated receptor. The second reason is that any sub-group of nuclear receptors important for the regulation of lipid metabolism might be pharmacologically inaccessible by conventional low molecular weight compounds, owing to the lack of a classical ligand-binding-pocket, as recently revealed by X-ray crystallography. Accordingly, targeting of classical nuclear receptor family members with better characterized endocrinology and roles in lipid metabolism, such as the thyroid and steroid hormone receptors, could become of renewed pharmacological interest, as these targets provide well-characterized alternatives to the more recently discovered nuclear receptors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Drug Discovery