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Most drugs currently employed in the treatment of type 2 diabetes either target the sulfonylurea receptor stimulating insulin release (sulfonylureas, glinides), or target the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPARgamma) improving insulin resistance (thiazolidinediones). Our work shows that sulfonylureas and glinides additionally bind to PPARgamma and exhibit PPARgamma agonistic activity. This activity was predicted in silico by virtual screening and confirmed in vitro in a binding assay, a transactivation assay, and by measuring the expression of PPARgamma target genes. Among the measured compounds, gliquidone and glipizide (two sulfonylureas), as well as nateglinide (a glinide), exhibit PPARgamma agonistic activity at concentrations comparable with those reached under pharmacological treatment. The most active of these compounds, gliquidone, is shown to be as potent as pioglitazone at inducing PPARgamma target gene expression. This dual mode of action of sulfonylureas and glinides may open new perspectives for the molecular pharmacology of antidiabetic drugs, because it provides evidence that drugs can be designed that target both the sulfonylurea receptor and PPARgamma. Targeting both receptors could increase pancreatic insulin secretion and improve insulin resistance. Glinides, sulfonylureas, and other acidified sulfonamides may be promising leads in the development of new PPARgamma agonists. In addition, we provide a unified concept of the PPARgamma binding ability of seemingly disparate compound classes.


Marco Scarsi, Michael Podvinec, Adrian Roth, Hubert Hug, Sander Kersten, Hugo Albrecht, Torsten Schwede, Urs A Meyer, Christoph Rücker. Sulfonylureas and glinides exhibit peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma activity: a combined virtual screening and biological assay approach. Molecular pharmacology. 2007 Feb;71(2):398-406

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PMID: 17082235

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