Antiobesity pharmacotherapy: new drugs and emerging targets

nature publishing group
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Antiobesity Pharmacotherapy: New Drugs and Emerging Targets
GW Kim1, JE Lin1, ES Blomain1 and SA Waldman1
Obesity is a growing pandemic, and related health and economic costs are staggering. Pharmacotherapy, partnered with
lifestyle modifications, forms the core of current strategies to reduce the burden of this disease and its sequelae. However,
therapies targeting weight loss have a significant history of safety risks, including cardiovascular and psychiatric events.
Here, evolving strategies for developing antiobesity therapies, including targets, mechanisms, and developmental
status, are highlighted. Progress in this field is underscored by Belviq (lorcaserin) and Qsymia (phentermine/topiramate),
the first agents in more than 10 years to achieve regulatory approval for chronic weight management in obese patients.
On the horizon, novel insights into metabolism and energy homeostasis reveal guanosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate
(cGMP) signaling circuits as emerging targets for antiobesity pharmacotherapy. These innovations in molecular discovery
may elegantly align with practical off-the-shelf approaches, leveraging existing approved drugs that modulate cGMP
levels for the management of obesity.

Obesity is a global public health problem. The obesity epidemic prepared foods vs. fast foods or prepackaged foods in terms has been growing in developed nations, including the United of preservation, portability, and palatability; the marketing of States, for decades.1 Moreover, this epidemic has spread to mostly unhealthy products by the food and beverage industry; developing nations.1 Growing affluence has been accompanied and modern cultural habits that increase sedentary behaviors, by the emergence of overweight and obesity, so much so that degrade eating cadences and locations, and incur excess stress the proportions of underweight and overweight have become levels and sleep debt.1,2 inverted.1 The worldwide burden is estimated at 1.5 billion Amid the waves of reports publicizing these threats, there are overweight and 500 million obese individuals.2 The negative glimmers of hope. Among the most troubling obesity-related consequences of obesity have been quantified as exceeding trends has been the threefold increase in childhood obesity rates those of either alcohol abuse or smoking.2 Obesity-associated in the past 30 years.5 Consequently, children are increasingly comorbidities, including major diseases such as cardiovascular being diagnosed with traditional y adult-onset diseases such as disease, cancer, and diabetes, are legion.3 Overweight and obe- heart disease and type 2 diabetes.5 Furthermore, the likelihood sity constitute the fifth leading risk for global deaths.2 In June and severity of obesity in adulthood is dramatical y heightened 2013, the American Medical Association official y recognized by obesity in childhood.5 This problem has been met with an obesity as a disease.4 extensive fight to limit and reverse this disease. Public pro- The evidence has been readily available and mounting, dem- grams have developed health promotional campaigns focused onstrating the profound impact of obesity on morbidity, mor- on (i) raising a new generation of children with healthier hab- tality, health-care costs, and professional and personal quality its regarding diet and physical activity and (ii) changing the of life.2 The awareness of this crisis has done little to reverse complexion of school foods and beverages from high-calorie/ the obesity trends among the global population. Neither has high-fat/high-sodium junk foods and sugar-rich sodas to more the awareness that healthier habits for eating and exercise can fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthier bever- be curative proved particularly effective. To blame are a host ages. Public policy measures, such as container size limits and Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics of factors: the lack of access to healthy, affordable foods or sugar taxes, are curbing the consumption of sugary high-calorie safe places for physical activity, particularly in lower-income drinks.6 Recent data suggest that these efforts are succeeding neighborhoods and communities; the inferiority of freshly modestly in trimming the growth of the overweight population; 1Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Correspondence: SA Waldman Received 3 September 2013; accepted 18 September 2013; advance online publication 13 Nov CliniCal PHarMaCOlOGy & THeraPeuTiCs VOLUME 95 NUMBER 1 JANUARy 2014
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however, the overall rates of overweight adults and children SAFETY ISSUES WITH WEIGHT-LOSS DRUGS
remain stubbornly large.7 Drugs can be very effective in inducing weight loss. The his- Bariatric surgery reduces the size of the stomach, increases tory of dietary supplements is full of success stories in terms the feeling of fullness, and reduces the amount of food intake.8 of efficacy, but this success is matched by tragedy with regard Different types of bariatric surgery include the following: to safety. Perhaps the most infamous is the combination drug Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, biliopancreatic diversion with duo- Fen–Phen. A combination of the amphetamine analogs fen- denal switch, vertical sleeve gastrectomy, and adjustable gastric fluramine and phentermine, Fen–Phen's effectiveness helped banding. Bariatric surgery has demonstrated efficacy in induc- it to achieve extensive popularity in the 1990s. Unfortunately, ing sustained weight loss and improvements in blood pressure, it also caused pulmonary hypertension and valvular heart glycemic control, and lipid profiles. Improvements and innova- disease, which forced its withdrawal from the market and tions in surgical techniques have reduced invasiveness, surgi- birthed a legal and financial disaster.10 Other amphetamine cal risk, and recovery times. Furthermore, evolving guidelines analogs and sympathomimetics have had similarly grave risks, have lowered the body mass index thresholds and expanded including addiction, myocardial toxicity, and sudden death.11 the patient population eligible for this treatment option, which Aminorex caused chronic pulmonary hypertension with 50% has traditional y been indicated for only the extremely obese. mortality.5 Phenylpropanolamine caused intracranial bleeding Notably, bariatric surgery has been increasingly prominent in and strokes.12 Ephedrine caused heart attacks, hypertension, diabetes management, with a dramatic effect on glycemic con- palpitations, strokes, and sudden death.13 Sibutramine caused trol independent of weight loss.9 Nonetheless, bariatric surgery increased cardiovascular events.14 Rimonabant, an inverse ago- still has serious risks of surgical and metabolic complications, nist of the endocannabinoid receptor CB1, caused increased and it remains very expensive, making it less than ideal for the depression and suicide.15 These unsafe drugs have had their majority of the obese population.
regulatory approval withdrawn, although their unregulated use Given the failure of lifestyle modifications to effect meaning- may continue to some extent.
ful change and the limitations of bariatric surgery, the use of As of September 2013, only one drug, orlistat, has been antiobesity drugs as adjuncts in obesity therapy is vital. The goal approved by both the FDA and the European Medicines is not to hunt for a magic pil , as the long history of weight-loss Agency (EMA) for chronic weight management. Orlistat is drugs has seen the rise and fall of countless agents that proved also the only FDA-approved weight-loss drug that is available highly effective but ultimately dangerous (). The goal is without a prescription. It was approved in 1999 for prescrip- to use a safe and effective drug regimen, in combination with tion sale and in 2007 for over-the-counter sale. Orlistat inhibits improved diet and exercise, to achieve a meaningful and sustain- gastrointestinal lipases, reducing fat absorption (). able reduction in body weight and enjoy the consequent benefits.
Consequently, its most common adverse effect is steatorrhea. For regulatory agencies such as the US Food and Drug Despite its approved status, orlistat has had a number of safety Administration (FDA), caution is key. Efficacy must go hand issues, including hepatotoxicity, nephrotoxicity, pancreatitis, in hand with safety. The FDA's efficacy benchmarks require (i) and kidney stones.5 that the difference in mean weight loss between the drug and In 2010, the FDA rejected two proposed weight-loss drugs, the placebo groups is at least 5% for at least 1 year and statisti- lorcaserin and phentermine/topiramate (extended-release for- cal y significant, and (ii) that the proportion of subjects who mulation) due to safety and efficacy issues. Major concerns over lose at least 5% of baseline body weight in the active product lorcaserin included limited efficacy, carcinogenesis, cardiovas- group is at least 35% and is approximately double the propor- cular events, cognitive impairment, and psychiatric disorders. tion in the placebo-treated group.5 Moreover, the obese popu- Major concerns over phentermine/topiramate included cardio- lation is heterogeneous, with variations in degree and duration vascular events, fetal toxicity, and suicidal ideation. In 2012, the of overweight, age, and associated comorbidities. A weight- FDA reversed its position and granted approval to both lorca- loss drug must be compatible with the profile of an individual serin and phentermine/topiramate. Nonetheless, the FDA has obese patient to be truly meaningful in terms of efficacy, safety, required postmarketing safety studies to address the original and durability. These necessary but demanding requirements cardiovascular concerns. Furthermore, the EMA has rejected have resulted in very limited pharmacotherapeutic options. both lorcaserin and phentermine/topiramate. The EMA rejected As of September 2013, only three drugs are approved by the lorcaserin due to its opinion that the drug's benefits did not out- FDA as adjunctive therapy for chronic weight management: weigh its risks, particularly the potential risk for tumors,16 and orlistat (Alli, GlaxoSmithKline; Xenical, Roche), approved in phentermine/topiramate due to concerns over the potential car- 1999; lorcaserin (Belviq, Arena Pharmaceuticals), approved in diovascular and central nervous system effects associated with 2012; and phentermine/topiramate extended-release formula- its long-term use, its teratogenic potential, and its use by patients tion (Qsymia, Vivus), also approved in 2012. Nonetheless, drug for whom it is not indicated.17 development programs have been investigating the molecular Despite their limitations, lorcaserin and phentermine/topira- mechanisms underlying the regulation of appetite and metabo- mate represent the first new antiobesity drug approvals in 13 lind translation of their discoveries into new years (,). In this article, we discuss these two new pharmacotherapeutic agents and molecular targets to address drugs in more detail. We also discuss other promising weight- the dual mandate of safety and efficacy.
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Table 1  Current antiobesity medications
Mechanism of action

effects and safety concerns
Appetite suppressant. Appetite suppression and weight loss Weight loss greater than Approved by the Stimulates anorexic Side effects include dizziness, dry mouth, difficulty placebo was 3.6 kg (CI: signaling in hypothalamus in sleeping, irritability, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or or dopamine receptor constipation. This drug has withdrawal symptoms in the hippocampus. Anorexia and weight loss Weight loss greater than Off-label usage; Sympathomimetic agent Side effects include nervousness, restlessness, excitability, placebo was <1 kg (CI: similar to norepinephrine dizziness, headache, fear, anxiety, and tremor. Blood pressure 0.5–1.6 kg) attention-deficit with central nervous and heart rate may increase. Chronic use may lead to system stimulatory activity dependence. These drugs have withdrawal symptoms Serotonin, dopamine, and Lorcaserin Limited weight-loss efficacy and possible increase in cancer risk Mean body weight loss: norepinephrine reuptake (Belviq) Side effects include headache, infection, sinusitis, nausea, lorcaserin 5.8 ± 0.2 kg; inhibitor that potentiates depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Possible concerns placebo 2.2 ± 0.1 kg the neurotransmitter activity in the central Desvenlafaxine Anorexia, but effect on body weight is unclear Mean body weight loss Off-label usage; Vision problems, headache, low libido, dry mouth, dizziness, greater than placebo was approved for insomnia, taste problems, vomiting, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, depression, high blood pressure, stomach ache, numbness and tingling, fatigue, and involuntary quivering Limited weight-loss efficacy Increased risk for cardiovascular events and stroke Inhibits the neuronal Modest weight loss % Weight loss greater Off-label usage; uptake of dopamine, Nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, headache, constipation, than placebo: bupropion approved for norepinephrine, and increased sweating, joint aches, sore throat, blurred SR 400 mg/day 5.1% vision, strange taste in the mouth, agitation and insomnia, (CI: 6.9–3.2%); bupropion tremor, or dizziness may occur. Rare side effects include SR 300 mg/day 2.2% cardiovascular effects, hearing problems, severe headache, an increase in suicide risk, and respiratory problems Reversible inhibitor of Mean body weight loss intestinal lipases Increased number of bowel movements and potential greater than placebo was FDA in 1999 changes in the bowel function and microbiota Enhancing GABA signaling Topiramate Appetite suppression and weight loss Weight loss greater than Off-label usage; to promote anorexigenic Fatigue, drowsiness, dizziness, loss of coordination, tingling placebo was 6.5 kg (CI: signaling. Inhibiting of the hands/feet, bad taste in the mouth, and diarrhea. voltage-gated channels Mental problems such as confusion, slowed thinking, trouble and AMPA receptor in the concentrating or paying attention, nervousness, memory orexigenic neurons problems, or speech/language problems may also occur. Rare side effects include kidney stones, depression, suicidal thoughts/attempts, and vision loss GLP-1 receptor agonist Decreased blood glucose level and body weight Mean body weight Off-label usage; Side effects include gastrointestinal symptoms, acute change: exenatide pancreatitis, dizziness, and headache. It might increase risks −(2.49 ± 0.66) kg, placebo diabetes of sulfonylurea-induced hypoglycemia and thyroid cancer +(0.43 ± 0.63) kg Maintained normal blood glucose and body weight Weight loss greater than Off-label usage; Increased risks of C-cell carcinoma and thyroid C-cell focal placebo was 4.4 kg hyperplasia were observed in rats and mice (CI: 2.9–6.0 kg) Decreased blood glucose level and body weight % Weight loss greater Off-label usage; Side effects include nausea, hypoglycemia, vomiting, than placebo was headache, abdominal pain, and fatigue See above effects from individual drugs % Weight loss from baseline was placebo –2.2%, (PHEN 7.5 mg/ TPM 46 mg) CR –9.3%, and (PHEN 15 mg/TPM 92 mg) CR –10.7% The various shades (low, medium, and high) represent FDA approval status and off-label usage of drugs.
AMPA, α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate; CI, confidence interval; CR, controlled release; FDA, US Food and Drug Administration; GABA, γ-aminobutyric acid; GLP-1, glucagon-like peptide 1; PHEN, phentermine; SR, sustained release; TPM, topiramate.
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Energy expenditure Gastrointestinal system Figure 1  Central regulation of appetite and energy homoeostasis. The hypothalamus is the major site of integration of anorexigenic and orexigenic signaling.
Peripheral satiety hormones, such as ghrelin from the stomach and leptin from adipose tissue, primarily bind and activate their cognate receptors directly in
the hypothalamus, particularly in the arcuate nucleus, or in the dorsal vagal complex in the medulla, which communicates with the hypothalamus. Among
the neurons in the arcuate nucleus, there exist two populations of neurons: those expressing the orexigenic neuropeptide y (NPy) or agouti-related peptide
(AgRP), and those expressing the anorexigenic pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) and cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (CART). Several satiety
hormones induce their anorectic effects by either inhibiting the activity of NPy/AgRP neurons or activating POMC/CART neurons. These neurons in the arcuate
nucleus project to second-order neurons in other hypothalamic nuclei, including the paraventricular nucleus (PVN), dorsomedial nucleus (DMN), ventromedial
nucleus (VMN), and lateral hypothalamic area (LHA). These second-order hypothalamic neurons express anorexigenic neuropeptides (corticotropin-releasing
hormone (CRH), thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)) and orexigenic neuropeptides (orexin (ORX) and melanin-
concentrating hormone (MCH)), which modulate appetite and energy homeostasis. Furthermore, the regulation of energy balance involves an integration of
signaling from the hypothalamus, brain stem, and reward pathways of the mesolimbic system. Symbols: blue receptor, activating; red receptor, inhibiting; blue
arrow, appetite-stimulating pathway; red arrow, appetite-suppressing pathway. GLP-1R, glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor.
clinical trials, as well as future directions in medical weight-loss and has modest but demonstrated efficacy, it has garnered attention by the FDA and Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer rights advocacy group, because of safety issues. Risks include ORLISTAT (ALLI, XENICAL)
severe liver damage, acute pancreatitis, acute renal failure, and Orlistat is a gastrointestinal lipase inhibitor. It was approved by precancerous colon lesions.19 In summary, the modest efficacy, the FDA for prescription sale in 1999 and for over-the-counter undesirable adverse effects, and serious health risks combine to sale in 2007. Because of the safety-related withdrawals of other highlight the deficiencies of orlistat and underscore the pressing drugs from the market, orlistat was the sole drug approved need for other antiobesity drug options.
by the FDA for adjunctive use in long-term weight manage- ment until the 2012 approvals of lorcaserin and phentermine/ topiramate. Moreover, orlistat remains the only antiobesity drug Serotonin, or 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), is an important approved by the EMA. Orlistat acts by binding and inhibiting neurotransmitter that regulates food intake behaviors in both lipases that are produced by the pancreas and stomach and that invertebrates and vertebrat20,21 In more complex act in the small intestine to break down dietary triglycerides into animals, including humans, serotonin mediates multiple pro- free fatty acids, which can be absorbed via fatty acid transporters cesses in the central nervous system through 14 distinct 5-HT expressed by the intestinal epithelial cel s (). Thus, by receptors belonging to seven families.21 The serotonergic neu- inhibiting these lipases, orlistat reduces systemic fat absorption. rons project axons into almost all brain areas and the spinal Unsurprisingly, a major adverse effect is steatorrhea. In obese cord to release 5-HT to activate serotonin-sensitive neurons patients started on a controlled-energy diet, orlistat (120 mg in virtually all regions of the central nervous system, mainly t.i.d.) induced more weight loss (3%) after 1 year, produced less from the raphe nuclei of the midbrain.21 It is notable that the weight regain after 2 years, and was associated with improve- majority of the serotonin-sensitive neurons are heteroreceptors, ments in fasting low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and insulin which release different neurotransmitters from those that acti- levels vs. placebo.18 Although orlistat has remained approved vate them.21 One of the physiological processes that serotonin VOLUME 95 NUMBER 1 JANUARy 2014
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Nucleus accumbens neuron Exenatide, liraglutide TKS1225, OXY-RPEG Obinepitide, TM30339, PP1420 Figure 2  Molecular targets for antiobesity pharmacotherapeutics. (a) Phentermine stimulates the release of dopamine (DA) into the synapse from the
presynaptic dopaminergic neurons from the ventral tegmental area (VTA). This released dopamine binds and activates dopamine receptors, including D1 and
D2, on postsynaptic neurons in the nucleus accumbens. Dopamine is taken back up into the presynaptic neuron by the dopamine transporter (DAT), which
is bound and inhibited by bupropion. Pramlintide and davalintide are amylin analogs that activate amylin receptors (CTR) in the dorsal vagal complex (DVC).
Exenatide, liraglutide, and NN9924 are GLP-1 analogs that activate GLP-1 receptors (GLP-1R) in the hypothalamus and DVC. S-2367 binds and inhibits y5
receptors in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN) to suppress neuropeptide y (NPy) signaling. RM-493 is a melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) agonist
that binds and activates MC4R in the PVN and lateral hypothalamic area (LHA). Topiramate induces γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor–mediated inhibitory
currents. TKS1225 and OXy-RPEG are oxyntomodulin (OXM) analogs that bind and activate GLP-1R in the arcuate nucleus and DVC. Lorcaserin selectively binds
and activates 5-HT2c serotonin receptors in the arcuate nucleus. Symbols: blue receptor, activating; red receptor, inhibiting. (b) Topiramate's exact mechanism of
action is unknown but may involve its ability to block voltage-gated sodium channels in the presynaptic excitatory neuron, antagonize
α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid/N-methyl-d-aspartate (AMPA/NMDA) glutamate receptors on postsynaptic neurons, and enhance the
activity of inhibitory γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurons. (c) Orlistat binds and inhibits gastric and pancreatic lipases in the intestine. These lipases hydrolyze
dietary triglycerides into free fatty acids that can be absorbed by intestinal epithelial cells via fatty acid transporters. Thus, orlistat suppresses systemic lipid
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regulates is postprandial satiety through hypothalamic serotonin lorcaserin on body weight management was also examined in 5-HT2C receptors and, possibly, 5-HT1A, 5-HT1B, and 5-HT6 an 8-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Lorcaserin induced significant reduction of body weight and food intake in These receptors receive serotonin secreted from serotonergic comparison with placebo and baseline.25 In a number of phase III neurons that project from the brain stem into the hypothala- trials, including the BLOOM-DM (Behavioral Modification and mus to orchestrate feeding behavior through the melanocor- Lorcaserin for Overweight and Obesity Management in Diabetes tin (MC) system.22 Specifically, serotonin regulates appetite Mellitus) and BLOSSOM (Behavioral Modification and Lorcaserin and body weight through MC4R in the arcuate nucleus (ARC; Second Study for Obesity Management) studies, subjects in the ctivation of 5-HT2C and 5-HT1B receptors by ser- lorcaserin groups achieved significantly greater weight loss than otonin increases the anorexigenic α-melanocyte-stimulating those in the placebo groups.32,33 hormone and decreases the orexigenic agouti-related peptide Lorcaserin has safety concerns regarding psychiatric and car- (AgRP) in the presynaptic area of the ARC and promotes satiety diovascular risks that are similar to those of other 5-HT receptor through MC4R-expressing neurons.23,24 Silencing Mc4r in mice agonists but to a lesser extent. The most common adverse events eliminates the appetite-suppressing effects mediated by 5-HT2C in nondiabetic patients include headache, dizziness, fatigue, and 5-HT1B agonists, whereas expression of Mc4r in the ARC nausea, dry mouth, and constipation. In diabetic patients, hypo- restores the ability of 5-HT compounds to regulate appetite.24,25 glycemia, headache, back pain, cough, and fatigue are the major Genetic manipulation of 5-HT receptors revealed that abla- complaints.31–33 Potential life-threatening serotonin syndrome tion of 5-HT receptors resulted in hyperphagia and obesity.22 or neuroleptic malignant syndrome–like reactions might take Elimination of the Gi-coupled 5-HT1B receptor (Htr1b) in place if lorcaserin is used in combination with drugs that impair mice exhibited only a limited increase in food consumption metabolism of serotonin or increase presynaptic serotonin con- and body weight.25,26 However, genetic inactivation of the Gq- centration.25 In very rare cases, lorcaserin induces changes in coupled receptor 5-HT2CR (Htr2c) leads to hyperphagia and the heart, as evidenced by echocardiography, and possibly causes obesity, accompanied by partial leptin and insulin resistance.27 valvular heart diseases. Other potential side effects include cog- Reinstating 5-HT2CR on pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neu- nitive impairment, psychiatric disorders, priapism, bradycar- rons in Htr2c−/− mice is sufficient to mediate the serotonin effects dia, hematological changes, prolactin elevation, and pulmonary on appetite and correct the hyperphagic and obese phenotypes.27 hypertension.25 The effect of lorcaserin on breast cancer risk In addition, pharmacologic or genetic inactivation of the 5-HT3 is unclear. Given that lorcaserin increases breast cancer risk in receptor in the nucleus tractus solitarius of the dorsal vagal com- rats, long-term postmarketing safety monitoring is required to plex ( promotes food intake in AgrpDTR mice, whose evaluate the potential risks and safety concerns, in addition to orexigenic AgRP neurons were ablated by diphtheria toxin.28 unexpected adverse events.
Accordingly, central serotonergic neurons may be a potential target to modulate food intake and energy homeostasis.
Lorcaserin (previously known as APD-356), marketed as FORMULATION (QSYMIA)
Belviq by Arena Pharmaceuticals, is a selective 5-HT2C recep- Many etiologies contribute to obesity in humans. This disease is tor agonist that specifical y activates 5-HT2C receptors relative to caused by the confluence of a variety of factors, including energy other 5-HT receptor subtypes. This characteristic of lorcaserin imbalance, disruption of neuroendocrine axes, and adverse psy- limits the risk of hal ucinations due to 5-HT2A activation and chological factors. Given this complex etiology, it is unlikely the risk of cardiovascular side effects, including valvulopathy that monotherapy will be sufficient to reverse the disease. It is and pulmonary hypertension, through 5-HT2B receptors.25 This therefore not surprising that combination therapies have been preferential affinity to 5-HT2C receptors provides lorcaserin the evaluated clinical y, and these show substantial promise in the efficacy of previous serotonergic antiobesity treatments without treatment of obesity. One such cocktail therapy that has recently the undesirable safety concerns that led to their withdrawal.29,30 been approved for treatment of obesity is phentermine/topira- Lorcaserin has a half-life of about 11 hours and a median time to mate extended-release formulation, which is being marketed in maximum concentration of 1.5–2 h.25 Lorcaserin is metabolized the United States as Qsymia by Vivus.
by multiple hepatic pathways to inactive metabolites, which are Phentermine has been used in the United States since 1959 for thereafter excreted in the urine. This drug inhibits cytochrome short-term management of obesity.25 Its mechanism of action P450 2D6 metabolism and cannot be cleared by hemodialysis.25 is believed to be dependent on modulation of catecholamines Preclinical studies demonstrated that chronic administration in the satiety centers of the hypothalamus, reducing appetite.25 of lorcaserin at doses of 4.5, 9, and 18 mg/kg reduced food con- Topiramate has also been approved by the FDA, although it is sumption and prevented diet-induced obesity in mice.25 In a mul- primarily used to treat convulsive disorders and migraines. ticenter, randomized, 52-week, placebo-controlled, double-blind Interestingly, it was observed that patients receiving topira- trial, lorcaserin at a dose of 10 mg b.i.d. mediated an average weight mate lost weight, and this generated interest in evaluating this loss of 5.8 ± 0.2 kg (5.8%) in 883 patients within 1 year, whereas the compound as a potential antiobesity drug.34–36 Topiramate placebo induced an average weight loss of 2.2 ± 0.1 kg (2.2%) in enacts its effects at least partially through antagonism of 716 patients. There was no significant difference in adverse events α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate/kainate between the lorcaserin and the placebo groups.31 The effect of receptors, although induction of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) VOLUME 95 NUMBER 1 JANUARy 2014
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receptor-mediated inhibitory currents and modification of volt- remain important and actively researched questions. In the age-gated calcium and sodium channels may also play a roles context of the substantial problem of weight regain, persistence .37 Animal studies suggest that topiramate induces of the weight-loss response is desirable in any potential obesity weight loss not only by decreasing food intake but also by increas- therapy. Importantly, topiramate appears to possess this impor- ing energy expenditure, possibly through decreased efficiency tant characteristic. In several clinical trials, cohorts of patients of nutrient utilization.38–40 Although the exact mechanisms by treated with topiramate maintained weight loss as long as 1 which topiramate regulates appetite and induces weight loss in year, even after the placebo group had exhibited marked weight humans is are unknown, significant clinical evidence exists to regain.34,35 Importantly, one of the clinical trials evaluating the support its use as an antiobesity drug.34–36 combination of phentermine/topiramate showed a sustained The FDA approved the combination of phentermine/topira- weight loss at 2 years of follow-up.43 mate in 2012, largely on the strength of evidence from three The persistent and robust clinical effects of phentermine/topira- clinical trials, known as the CONQUER, EQUIP, and SEQUEL mate may be attributable to the complementary effects of these trials.41–43 Data from these three trials showed phentermine/ two compounds. The chronology of weight loss induced by both topiramate to be efficacious in inducing and maintaining weight the two compounds may represent the source of this comple- loss. Across the three trials, 75% of treated subjects exhibited mentarity. Phentermine induces weight loss in the short term, a 5% weight loss, and 50% exhibited a 10% weight loss. These whereas topiramate has been shown to be a longer-term agent. benchmarks represent important efficacy thresholds in evalua- In addition to chronology, complementary effects may exist in tion of obesity pharmacotherapies. Importantly, this weight loss the mechanisms by which the compounds induce weight loss. was accompanied by improvement in weight-related comor- Interestingly, several studies have documented the ability of bidities, including serum lipid profile, waist circumference, topiramate to reduce calorie intake.46,47 These studies have sug- and blood pressure. It is unclear whether sustained weight loss gested that this effect may be due to topiramate's ability to inhibit requires indefinite treatment with phentermine/topiramate, but compulsive food cravings and addictive behavior. This obser- it has been speculated that discontinuation of the drug may lead vation is based largely on the clinical efficacy of topiramate in to weight regain.25 treating binge eating disorder through antagonism of α-amino-3- Although drug interactions are rare for phentermine/topira- hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate/kainate receptors.46–48 mate, adverse events observed in clinical trials include paresthe- These beneficial psychological effects may behave synergistical y sias, headaches, constipation, dry mouth, upper respiratory tract with neuroendocrine mechanisms of inducing weight loss. This infection, nasopharyngitis, dizziness, insomnia, depression, anx- makes phentermine/topiramate unique in obesity therapeutics iety, blurry vision, and irritability.41–43 Given this lengthy list of in that it targets not only the neuroendocrine milieu of obesity events, it is not surprising that one clinical trial of phentermine/ but also the psychological factors of binge eating underlying the topiramate reported a dropout rate of 19% (although another disease. These various complementary effects make this regimen trial reported this number to be as low as 4%).42,43 A more seri- unique among its peers and may represent an important paradigm ous potential adverse event involves the risk of cardiovascular in the future development of combinatorial therapies.
events. Although patients treated with phentermine/topiramate in clinical trials exhibited a slight increase in heart rate, the risk ANTIOBESITY DRUGS IN THE PIPELINE
of cardiovascular events is unclear at this time and is being A fundamental trait shared by many antiobesity drugs under monitored by Vivus in postmarketing studies.41–44 development is the targeting of endogenous endocrine circuits In addition to adverse events observed in clinical trials, several regulating energy homeostasis. Most of these endocrine circuits other safety issues cloud the use of phentermine/topiramate. are anorexigenic. Peripheral peptide hormones are released Given the addictive potential of amphetamines, there was some postprandially and travel in the circulation to their cognate concern regarding widespread use of phentermine. However, receptors, which are expressed in the homeostatic regulatory a study investigating the addictive potential of phentermine centers in the central nervous system, notably the ARC of the showed only minimal addictiveness, al aying these concerns.45 hypothalamus and the dorsal vagal complex in the medulla. Importantly, phentermine/topiramate is also a teratogen, classi- The ARC is home to neurons expressing the key (i) orexigenic fied as a pregnancy category X drug.25 Amid these concerns, the (stimulating appetite) neurotransmitters agouti-related peptide FDA approved the combinatorial therapy with a Risk Evaluation (AgRP) and neuropeptide Y (NPY) and (ii) anorexigenic (appe- and Mitigation Strategy (REMS).25 As with the cardiovascular tite-suppressing) neurotransmitters POMC and the cocaine- and risks, Vivus is engaged in a rigorous postmarketing surveil ance amphetamine-regulated transcript ( program to evaluate these teratogenic risks.25,44 POMC itself is cleaved to yield several hormones, including Weight regain remains a significant limitation among patients α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, which binds the mel- attempting to lose weight. Although interventions such as life- anocortin 3 and melanocortin 4 receptors (MC3R and MC4R, style modification, pharmacotherapy, or bariatric surgery are respectively) to transmit the anorexigenic signal. Rhythm has effective in inducing weight loss initially, most subjects will developed the MC4R agonisn preclinical eventually regain their lost weight. Given the importance of studies, obese primates treated for 8 weeks lost an average of weight maintenance in the long-term disease prognosis for 13.5% of their body weight, with significant improvements in obese patients, the mechanisms underlying weight regain both insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular function. However, CliniCal PHarMaCOlOGy & THeraPeuTiCs VOLUME 95 NUMBER 1 JANUARy 2014
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in a trial with obese human subjects, Merck's MC4R agonist vs. placebo induced at least 5% weight loss, reduced waist MK-0493 induced only a smal , statistical y insignificant weight circumference, and improved lipid panels in obese patients reduction as compared with placebo after 12 weeks in a fixed- over the course of 1 year.53 It should be noted that neuropep- dose study or after 18 weeks of stepped-titration dosing.49 As tide Y5 receptor antagonism with Merck's MK-0557 failed Merck's MK-0493 was promising at the preclinical stage but only to induce clinically meaningful weight loss in overweight tested in rodents, that Rhythm's RM-493 preclinical success was and obese adults in a 52-week weight-loss study, despite its in primates may be more predictive of the results in humans. success in preclinical and proof-of-concept/dose-ranging Rhythm initiated phase II trials of RM-493 in December 2012, studies.54 The investigators concluded that neuropeptide Y5 with completion scheduled for October 2013.5 Due to the role receptor antagonism was insufficient as monotherapy for of MCs in cardiovascular and sexual function, the potential antiobesity drug therapy but discussed its potential in com- off-target adverse effects of MC signaling in obesity treat- bination therapy.
ment warrant scrutiny.50 For example, phase I/II trials with Modulation of monoamine neurotransmitters, such as dopa- the α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone analog, Melanotan II, mine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, can be highly effective in caused dose-dependent penile erections.51 suppressing appetite, but adverse effects such as cardiovascu- NPY activates G protein–coupled receptors Y1 and Y5 to lar events and addiction are major concerns with their use in stimulate appetite.52 Shionogi's S-2367 (Velneperit; weight management.55 Orexigen Therapeutics has developed is a Y5 receptor inhibitor that has completed phase II trials in the combination drug bupropion/naltrexone (Contrave), which the United States and is in a phase III trial in Japan initiated combines bupropion, a dopamine and norepinephrine reup- in August 2013 and scheduled for completion in March 2014. take inhibitor, and naltrexone, an opioid receptor antagonist. In combination with a reduced-calorie diet, 800 mg/d S-2367 Bupropion increases dopamine activity and POMC neuronal Table 2  Antiobesity medications under development

Mechanism of action
Central neuropeptide signaling  Melanocortin receptor Selective MC4R agonist, increases Phase II completed MC3R/4R signaling Selective MC4R agonist, increases y5 receptor antagonist, NPy blocker Phase II completed y5 receptor antagonist, NPy blocker Norepinephrine/dopamine Phase III completed; reuptake inhibitor Intestinal peptide hormone signaling  GLP-1 GLP-1R agonist, GLP-1 mimicking Phase III completed; Byetta (Exenatide) GLP-1R agonist, GLP-1 mimicking GLP-1R agonist, OXM mimicking Phase I recruiting GLP-1R agonist, OXM mimicking Pancreatic hormone signaling  PP Pancreatic polypeptide analog Phase I completed Adipose tissue hormone signaling  Leptin Leptin receptor agonist Phase III recruiting Inhibition of lipase  Pancreatic lipase Pancreatic lipase inhibitor, inhibits Phase III completed intestinal lipid absorption GLP-1, glucagon-like peptide 1; MC3R/4R, melanocortin 3 and melanocortin 4 receptors; NDA, New Drug Application; NPy, neuropeptide y; OXM, oxyntomodulin; PP, pancreatic polypeptide.
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activation, thereby reducing appetite and increasing energy receptor responsiveness to leptin in the setting of obesity.65 expendituraltrexone blocks opioid receptors on Combination therapy comprising Amylin Pharmaceuticals' the POMC neurons, preventing feedback inhibition and fur- leptin analog, metreleptin, and its amylin analog, pramlin- ther increasing POMC activity. In a comparison of combined tide, induced a greater and more durable weight reduction bupropion (400 mg/d, sustained-release formulation) and nal- vs. monotherapy in phase II trials in overweight and obese trexone (48 mg/d) therapy for obesity vs. monotherapy or pla- patients.66 Unfortunately, Amylin Pharmaceuticals and cebo, weight loss was 1.2 kg (1.1%) for placebo, 1.6 kg (1.7%) for Takeda Pharmaceutical Company were forced to suspend the naltrexone monotherapy, 3.1 kg (3.1%) for bupropion mono- trials due to a laboratory finding involving antibody-mediated therapy, and 6.9 kg (7.5%) for naltrexone/bupropion combina- metreleptin neutralization.67 Fortunately, other preclinical tion therapy, which demonstrated their synergy.56 In addition, studies suggest that leptin resensitization is achievable with bupropion/naltrexone may regulate activity in the dopamine combination therapy comprising leptin analogs and other reward system of the brain that helps control food cravings and pharmacotherapeutic agents, namely, exendin-4 or fibroblast overeating behavior).56 In phase III clinical trials, growth factor 21.68 bupropion/naltrexone vs. placebo induced greater weight loss Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is derived from cleavage on a diet and exercise program over 56 weeks.5 In 2011, the of the preproglucagon gene product, which is synthesized by FDA rejected bupropion/naltrexone and requested a large car- enteroendocrine L cells in the ileum and proximal colon.69 diovascular risk trial to address long-term adverse effects before GLP-1 is secreted following food intake and mediates a variety it could approve the drug.5 Orexigen has begun the requested of functions: increased insulin secretion, decreased glucagon long-term clinical trial, and its New Drug Application has been secretion, decreased gastric secretion and motility, increased submitted and reviewed by the FDA, with potential approval in satiety, and decreased food intake. Indeed, GLP-1 administra- late 2013 or early 2014.
tion in preclinical and clinical trials induced satiety and weight Amylin, also called islet amyloid polypeptide, is synthesized loss.70–73 However, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 degrades endogenous by pancreatic β-cells and is secreted with insulin postpran- GLP-1 in <2 minutes.74 Consequently, degradation-resistant dially.57 Amylin acts synergistically with insulin to regulate GLP-1 analogs have been developed to increase the practicality plasma glucose levels. Amylin's fasting plasma concentration is of GLP-1 pharmacotherapy. Liraglutide (Victoza) from Novo low and rises following food intake.58 Amylin also functions as Nordisk is a GLP-1 analog that contains an amino acid substitu- an anorectic, mediating appetite suppression via activation of tion and a fatty acid attachment, which stabilize it against degra- amylin receptors in the area postrema of the dorsal vagal com- dation by dipeptidyl peptidase-4. Its 13-hour half-life makes it plex57 and vagal signaling.59,60 The amylin analog pramlintide suitable for once-daily administration. Exenatide (Byetta) from (Symlin), from Amylin Pharmaceuticals/Bristol-Myers Squibb/ Amylin Pharmaceuticals/Bristol-Myers Squibb/AstraZeneca is AstraZeneca, is already approved for diabetic adjunctive treat- an analog of exendin-4, a Gila monster salivary hormone with ment.5 Notably, 120 μg b.i.d. or 150 μg q.d. pramlintide also functions similar to those of GLP-1. As with the amylin analog induced an average weight loss of 2.6 kg over 1 year in type 2 dia- pramlintide, liraglutide and exenatide are approved by the FDA betics, with minimal adverse effects.61 Amylin Pharmaceuticals' for adjunctive therapy in type 2 diabetes.75–78 The potential of second-generation amylin analog, davalintide (AC2307), is in these drugs to treat both diabetes and obesity would be a major phase II trials for an obesity indication.
synergistic benefit considering the overlap in patient population Leptin is a hormone made by adipose tissue and secreted and the close association between these diseases. Liraglutide into the circulation in proportion to its mass. Leptin activates and exenatide induced significant weight loss in diabetics. This leptin receptors, which are expressed throughout the body, weight loss was dose dependent, progressive, and durable over with high expression in the hypothalamic ARC. Hypothalamic 30 weeks. In studies with nondiabetic obese patients, liraglu- leptin receptor activation drives increased POMC expression tide drove a 6-kg (8%) weight loss, and >35% of the patients on and signaling and inhibits NPY/AgRP expression and signal- the highest dose achieved weight loss of >10%. Novo Nordisk ing, thereby suppressing appetite.5 Conversely, a decreased completed these phase III trials for liraglutide for an obesity fat mass results in lower plasma leptin concentrations, lead- indication in nondiabetic obese patients in September 2010 and ing to increased appetite. Thus, leptin is a key hormone in in diabetic obese patients in January 2013. Novo Nordisk expects the regulation of energy homeostasis. Patients with con- regulatory filings in the European Union and the United States genital leptin deficiency develop early-onset obesity and are to begin by the start of 2014. Bristol-Myers Squibb is sched- responsive to leptin replacement therapy.62,63 Unfortunately, uled to complete its phase III obesity trials on exenatide in patients with diet-induced obesity develop leptin receptor February 2014. Furthermore, Novo Nordisk/Emisphere used resistance.64 These patients have high plasma leptin concen- Emisphere's proprietary oral sodium N-[8-(2-hydroxybenzoyl) trations, reflecting their high adiposity, but this high leptin amino] caprylate technology to develop the long-acting oral level is ineffective in driving appetite reduction. Although lep- GLP-1 analog NN9924, which is in phase I trials in the United tin monotherapy appears intractable as a therapeutic option, Kingdom.5 the resensitization of the leptin receptor to its cognate hor- Like GLP-1, oxyntomodulin (OXM) is an anorexigenic pep- mone is an active strategy in antiobesity drug development. tide hormone produced from the processing of preprogluca- Intriguingly, the pancreatic hormone amylin restores leptin gon and secreted postprandial y with GLP-1 by the L cel s in CliniCal PHarMaCOlOGy & THeraPeuTiCs VOLUME 95 NUMBER 1 JANUARy 2014
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the colon. Injections of OXM in humans caused a significant downstream signaling that promotes gluconeogenesis and lipoly- reduction in weight and appetite, in addition to an increase in sis in the liver.81 On the contrary, insulin, through its receptor on energy expenditure. OXM is a dual agonist of the GLP-1R and the plasma membrane of hepatocytes, activates cyclic nucleotide the glucagon receptor, and it may exert its anorectic effects via phosphodiesterases (PDEs) that convert cAMP to AMP and con- activation of central GLP-1Rs and stimulation of POMC neu- sequently terminates cAMP signaling.82 Reciprocally, hydroly- rons in the ARC ().5,79 Like GLP-1, rapid degradation sis of cAMP by PDEs in pancreatic β-cel s depletes intracel ular makes endogenous OXM impractical for pharmacotherapy, but cAMP levels and inhibits insulin secretion.83 long-acting OXM analogs are in development. TKS1225 from The role of cAMP in the regulation of energy homeostasis has Thiakis/Wyeth/Pfizer is in phase I trials. OXY-RPEG from been extended via its intimate relationship with AMP-activated PROLOR Biotech has been engineered with its proprietary protein kinase (AMPK) signaling. Intracel ular cAMP activates reversible pegylation technology to increase its half-life, with the AMPK signaling pathway through its metabolite AMP and an added benefit of increased potency. In preclinical testing, by elevating cytosolic Ca + 2 concentrations through exchange OXY-RPEG was significantly superior to twice-daily injections protein activated by cAMP (Epac1) signaling and, thereby, the of OXM in the reduction of food intake and in the degree and activation of calmodulin-dependent protein kinase kinase-β.84 durability of weight loss.5 AMPK regulates energy balance at both the cel ular and whole- body levels.85 AMPK inhibits synthesis of both fatty acids and THE EMERGING ROLE OF CYCLIC GUANOSINE
cholesterol by inactivation of acetyl-CoA carboxylase and MONOPHOSPHATE SIGNALING IN ANTIOBESITY
3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase.85 AMPK opposes gluconeogenesis by inhibiting transcription of critical Cyclic nucleotides, including 3′,5′-cyclic guanosine monophos- gluconeogenic enzymes. Activation of AMPK facilitates fatty phate (cGMP) and 3′,5′-cyclic adenosine monophosphate acid oxidation and mitochondrial biogenesis, which promotes (cAMP), are second messengers important in many biological energy expenditure.86 Interestingly, activation of AMPK in process). The canonical role of cAMP in carbohydrate the hypothalamus promotes food intake behavior.87 In some and lipid metabolism is well established, reflecting sophisticated cel s, an increase in intracel ular cGMP concentration increases studies of insulin and glucagon.80 Specifical y, binding of gluca- cAMP levels by inhibiting PDEs that degrade cAMP.88 Indeed, gon to an adrenergic receptor activates adenylyl cyclase, which inhibition of PDE4, PDE5, PDE9, and PDE10 decreases the results in an increase in intracel ular cAMP and elicits sequential adiposity in mice fed a high-fat diet or in ob/ob mice. Recently, Figure 3  Adenosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP)- and guanosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate (cGMP)-mediated signaling regulates metabolism and
energy homeostasis. Increased cGMP levels, via activation of particulate or soluble guanylyl cyclase (pGC or sGC, respectively), activate peroxisome proliferator-
activated receptor-γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α), a master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis and function. cGMP signaling also regulates the metabolic sensors
sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which directly activate PGC-1α by deacetylation and phosphorylation, respectively. Resveratrol
stimulates mitochondrial function by activating SIRT1 and stimulating cGMP production. Phosphodiesterases (PDEs), which hydrolyze cAMP and cGMP and
thereby terminate their signal, are the target for sildenafil, a PDE inhibitor specific for PDE5. Furthermore, cAMP is required for glucose-induced insulin release by
pancreatic β-cells. Furthermore, postprandial release of the intestinal hormone uroguanylin results in the endocrine activation of hypothalamic guanylyl cyclase
C (GUCy2C) to produce cGMP, which stimulates satiety and suppresses appetite. Moreover, in adipose tissue, cGMP signaling promotes lipolysis and induces
adipogenic and thermogenic programs during brown fat cell differentiation through protein kinase G (PKG)–mediated inhibition of RhoA and Rho-associated
kinase (ROCK) and, thereby, the activation of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)–v-akt murine thymoma viral oncogene homolog signaling.
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emerging evidence suggests that cGMP may regulate energy GC-C (GUCY2C) is another member of the particulate GC balance directly.89 family; its expression has been historically restricted to the cGMP is an important second messenger generated by the intestinal epithelium.88 GUCY2C is activated by the endog- family of guanylyl cyclases (GCs).88 There are two forms of enous hormones guanylin and uroguanylin in a paracrine fash- GCs: cytosolic (soluble) and membrane-bound (particulate). ion in the intestine. GUCY2C signaling defends a variety of Soluble GCs are activated by nitric oxide, whereas particulate homeostatic mechanisms that are crucial to intestinal integrity, GCs are activated upon binding by their cognate ligands, such including electrolyte and fluid balance, proliferation and dif- as the natriuretic peptides (atrial natriuretic peptide and brain ferentiation along the intestinal crypt–vil us axis, DNA damage natriuretic peptide for GC-A, and C-type natriuretic  peptide sensing and repair, and the barrier function of the intestinal for GC-B and the intestinal peptides (guanylin and uroguanylin lining.99–102 The recent discovery of GUCY2C expression and for GC-C (GUCY2C)).88 As a critical second messenger, cGMP function in the hypothalamus expands the homeostatic role of regulates a variety of physiological processes, and its intracel- GUCY2C. Explicitly, hypothalamic GUCY2C induces satiety lular concentration is meticulously balanced by the activity of responses upon activation by endocrine uroguanylin released GCs that produce cGMP and PDEs that hydrolyze cGMP.88 The from the intestine postprandial y.103 Furthermore, mice defi- role of cGMP in the regulation of energy balance is highlighted cient in GUCY2C signaling (Gucy2c/−) have defective satiety by its role in mitochondrial biogenesis90 and protection of mito- responses after food intake, resulting in hyperphagia and excess chondrial function from oxidative damage.91 weight gain.103 These mice display obesity-associated disorders, Mammalian adipose tissue is mainly composed of two types: including elevated adiposity, hypertriglyceridemia, hyperlep- white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT).92 tinemia, hyperinsulinemia, and impaired glycemic control, and WAT extracts fat from the circulation and stores the excess develop metabolic diseases, including fulminant diabetes, left- energy in the form of triglycerides. WAT is also responsible for ventricular hypertrophy, and hepatic steatosis.103 the production of hormones, such as leptin, estrogen, and resis- This gut–brain axis regulating appetite, body weight, and tin, and inflammatory cytokines.93 BAT is the major tissue that metabolism through GUCY2C signaling103 offers a target for the dissipates energy in the form of heat through a process known development of pharmacotherapeutic interventions to combat as nonshivering thermogenesis (). BAT generates heat obesity. Targeting GUCY2C signaling would leverage an endog- and increases energy expenditure through the mitochondrial enous endocrine mechanism that sentinels energy homeostasis. transmembrane protein, uncoupling  protein 1 (UCP1), which Moreover, GUCY2C activation may be achievable with reformu- dissipates the energy generated during oxidative phosphoryla- lations of existing GUCY2C peptide agonists, such as linaclotide tion in the mitochondria into heat by allowing protons that have (Linzess, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Forest Laboratories) and been pumped into the intermembrane space to leak back into plecanatide (Synergy Pharmaceuticals). Particularly, linaclotide the mitochondrial matrix.94 As a consequence, increasing BAT was approved in 2012 by the FDA and the EMA to treat dis- function or differentiating WAT into BAT may promote energy orders of gastrointestinal motility (chronic idiopathic consti- expenditure and offset the positive energy balance associated pation, and irritable bowel syndrome with constipation).104 In with overnutrition to reduce obesity.95 clinical trials, patients with chronic constipation improved after In BAT, cGMP signaling has been shown to induce adipogenic 12 or 26 weeks of treatment with 290 µg oral linaclotide, which and thermogenic programs during brown fat cell differentiation had no systemic exposure, was well tolerated, and had minimal through protein kinase G–mediated inhibition of RhoA and Rho- adverse effects, diarrhea being the most common.5 A phase III associated kinase and, thereby, the activation of phosphoinositide trial will be initiated in the fourth quarter of 2013 to evaluate the 3-kinase–v-akt murine thymoma viral oncogene homolog sign- safety and efficacy of plecanatide for the treatment of chronic aling 96 In addition, increasing cGMP levels through idiopathic constipation in patients.
cell-permeable cGMP or sildenafil-mediated PDE5 inhibition These developments offer new signaling circuits that can be enhanced BAT differentiation.97 Conversely, cGMP signaling, acti- leveraged for weight management. Intriguingly, because both vated by binding of natriuretic peptides (atrial natriuretic peptide thermogenesis and satiety are increased by activation of these and brain natriuretic peptide) to GC-A, triggers lipolytic path- cGMP pathways, stimulating them through drug administra- ways and mobilizes the fat stored in WAT.98 Notably, atrial natriu- tion could conceivably drive both of these physiologic processes retic peptide–mediated lipolysis is resistant to hyperinsulinemia in the same direction and induce weight loss by mutual rein- and independent of impaired β-adrenergic receptor signaling.98 forcement. Moreover, practical off-the-shelf approaches might Therefore, "browning" of the WAT via cGMP pathways may be be possible, given the existence of an established market for a promising strategy to increase BAT-mediated energy expendi- medications targeting cGMP pathways, with FDA- and EMA- ture and decrease WAT-mediated fat storage. Moreover, the ready approved drugs such as sildenafil and linaclotide.
availability of approved PDE5 inhibitors, such as sildenafil, may significantly facilitate implementing this strategy. In addition to CONCLUSION
BAT, skeletal muscle is another site for thermogenesis and energy Obesity is a global public health crisis. Obesity-related comor- expenditure. Activation of GC-A by natriuretic peptides in skeletal bidities are highlighted by three major causes of death: car- muscle increases cGMP accumulation and promotes energy use diovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. In June 2013, the through protein kinase G–dependent mitochondrial biogenesis.5 American Medical Association officially recognized obesity CliniCal PHarMaCOlOGy & THeraPeuTiCs VOLUME 95 NUMBER 1 JANUARy 2014
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itself as a disease. Obesity profoundly affects morbidity, mortal- review or decision process for this article. The other authors declared no ity, health-care costs, and professional and personal quality of conflict of interest.
life. Awareness of the obesity problem has done little to reverse the obesity trends among the global population. Recent data 2014 American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics suggest that growth of the overweight and obese populations in 1. Malik, V.S., Willett, W.C. & Hu, F.B. Global obesity: trends, risk factors and policy both children and adults have slowed. However, these popula- implications. Nat. Rev. Endocrinol. 9, 13–27 (2013).
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Dr. Joel Rodríguez Saldaña Fecha de nacimiento:16 de Junio de 1953, México, D.F. Lugar de nacimiento: México, D.F. Página web: Act. 240815 Facultad de Medicina, U.N.A.M., México D.F. 1969-1974 Examen Profesional:11 de enero de 1974 Internado rotatorio de Pregrado: Clínica Hospital No. 1, I.M.S.S., Durango, Dgo., del16 de enero al 31 de diciembre de 1973.