Anne Hermanowski-Vosatka , James M. Balkovec , Kang Cheng , Howard Y. Chen , Melba Hernandez , Gloria C. Koo , Cheryl B. Le Grand , Zhihua Li , Joseph M. Metzger , Steven S. Mundt , Heather Noonan , Christian N. Nunes , Steven H. Olson , Bill Pikounis , Ning Ren , Nancy Robertson , James M. Schaeffer , Kashmira Shah , Martin S. Springer , Alison M. Strack , Matthias Strowski , Kenneth Wu , TsueiJu Wu , Jianying Xiao , Bei B. Zhang , Samuel D. Wright , Rolf Thieringer
15 August 2005
The enzyme 11 β–hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD) type 1 converts inactive cortisone into active cortisol in cells, thereby raising the effective glucocorticoid (GC) tone above serum levels. We report that pharmacologic inhibition of 11 β-HSD1 has a therapeutic effect in mouse models of metabolic syndrome. Administration of a selective, potent 11 β-HSD1 inhibitor lowered body weight, insulin, fasting glucose, triglycerides, and cholesterol in diet-induced obese mice and lowered fasting glucose, insulin, glucagon, triglycerides, and free fatty acids, as well as improved glucose tolerance, in a mouse model of type 2 diabetes. Most importantly, inhibition of 11 β-HSD1 slowed plaque progression in a murine model of atherosclerosis, the key clinical sequela of metabolic syndrome. Mice with a targeted deletion of apolipoprotein E exhibited 84% less accumulation of aortic total cholesterol, as well as lower serum cholesterol and triglycerides, when treated with an 11 β-HSD1 inhibitor. These data provide the first evidence that pharmacologic inhibition of intracellular GC activation can effectively treat atherosclerosis, the key clinical consequence of metabolic syndrome, in addition to its salutary effect on multiple aspects of the metabolic syndrome itself.