2011 Oct;6(10):995-1025. doi: 10.1517/17460441.2011.608063. Epub 2011 Sep 2.
Cannabinoid 1 G protein-coupled receptor (periphero-)neutral antagonists: emergingtherapeutics for treating obesity-driven metabolic disease and reducing cardiovascular risk.
Introduction: Obesity and related cardiometabolic derangements are spiraling global health problems urgently in need of safe, effective and durable pharmacotherapy. Areas covered: As an orexigenic and anabolic biosignaling network, the endocannabinoid system interacts with other information-transducing pathways to help ensure metabolic homeostasis. Hyperphagia stimulates reinforcing neuronal circuits favoring energy intake and conservation, inviting overweight/obesity and cardiometabolic risk factors (‘metabolic syndrome’). Associated increases in cannabinoid 1 G protein-coupled receptor (CB1R) activity/expression further exacerbate food consumption and the metabolic shift toward fat production and accumulation. The role of CB1R activity in hyperphagia and weight gain spurred the development of rimonabant (SR141716; Acomplia), the first-in-class CB1R antagonist/inverse agonist weight-loss drug. Rimonabant and similar CB1R inverse agonists also exert pleiotropic actions in addition to weight-loss effects that help correct obesity-related metabolic derangements and reduce cardiovascular risk in humans. The medicinal utility of these agents was crippled by clinically significant central and peripheral adverse effects that appear to reflect CB1R inverse agonists as a class. Consequently, increased attention is being given to CB1R neutral antagonists, CB1R blockers with intrinsically weak, if any, functional potency to elicit the negative-efficacy responses associated with inverse agonists. Laboratory studies demonstrate that CB1R neutral antagonists – whether readily accessible to the central nervous system or not (i.e., ‘periphero-neutral’ antagonists) – retain the salient therapeutic effects of CB1R inverse agonists on hyperphagia, weight-gain, and obesity-driven metabolic abnormalities with the distinct advantage of being associated with significantly less preclinical adverse events than are conventional CB1R inverse agonists such as rimonabant. Expert opinion: CB1R (periphero-)neutral antagonists merit continued analysis of their molecular pharmacology and evaluation of their therapeutic significance and translational potential as new-generation medicines for obesity-related derangements, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes, if not obesity itself.