Clinical Applications of Small Molecule Inhibitors of Pregnane X Receptor

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Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology


The canonical effect of Pregnane X Receptor (PXR, NR1I2) agonism includes enhanced hepatic uptake and a concomitant increase in the first-pass metabolism and efflux of drugs in mammalian liver and intestine. In patients undergoing combination therapy, PXR-mediated gene regulation represents the molecular basis of numerous food-drug, herb-drug, and drug-drug interactions. Moreover, PXR activation promotes chemotherapeutic resistance in certain malignancies. Additional research efforts suggest that sustained PXR activation exacerbates the development of fatty liver disease. Additional metabolic effects of PXR activation in liver are the inhibition of fatty acid oxidation and gluconeogenesis. The identification of non-toxic and selective PXR antagonists is therefore of current research interest. Inhibition of PXR should decrease adverse effects, improve therapeutic effectiveness, and advance clinical outcomes in patients with cancer, fatty liver, and diabetes. This review identifies small molecule PXR antagonists described to date, discusses possible molecular mechanisms of inhibition, and seeks to describe the likely biomedical consequences of the inhibition of this nuclear receptor superfamily member.



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Antagonist, Drug efflux, Drug metabolism, Drug uptake, Ligand, Pregnane X receptor (PXR, NR1I2)