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J Biomol Struct Dyn. 2012;30(6):662-83. Epub 2012 Jun 26.

Three-in-one agonists for PPAR-α, PPAR-γ, and PPAR-δ from traditional Chinese medicine.

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  • 1Graduate Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, China Medical University, Taichung, 40402, Taiwan.


Nowadays, the occurrence of metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by obesity and clinical disorders, has been increasing rapidly over the world. It induces several serious chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, dyslipidemia, gall bladder disease, hypertension, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, stroke, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs), which have three isoforms: PPAR-α, PPAR-γ, and PPAR-δ, are key regulators of adipogenesis, lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, and are potential drug targets for treating metabolic syndrome. The traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) compounds from TCM Database@Taiwan ( ) were employed to virtually screen for potential PPAR agonists, and structure-based pharmacophore models were generated to identify the key interactions for each PPAR protein. In addition, molecular dynamics (MD) simulation was performed to evaluate the stability of the PPAR-ligand complexes in a dynamic state. (S)-Tryptophan-betaxanthin and berberrubine, which have higher Dock Score than controls, form stable interactions during MD, and are further supported by the structure-based pharmacophore models in each PPAR protein. Key features include stable H-bonds with Thr279 and Ala333 of PPAR-α, with Thr252, Thr253 and Lys331 of PPAR-δ, and with Arg316 and Glu371 of PPAR-γ. Hence, we propose the top two TCM candidates as potential lead compounds in developing agonists targeting PPARs protein for treating metabolic syndrome.

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