Atherosclerosis and related heart disease is strongly associated with elevated blood levels of total (and LDL) cholesterol. Due to the widespread incidence as well as severity of this pathological condition, major efforts have been made for the discovery and development of hypocholesteroleamic agents. In the past few decades, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) are being extensively used as lipid lowering drugs. These agents act predominantly by inhibiting the enzyme 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMGR) that is the rate limiting step of cholesterol biosynthesis. Both the success as well as drawbacks of HMGRIs, have led to the investigation and design of inhibitors of other (downstream) enzymes involved in the multistep cholesterol biosynthetic pathway. One such class of agents consists of the squalene sythase inhibitors which act at the first and solely committed step towards the biosynthesis of the cholesterol nucleus. This target is considered not to interfere with the biosynthesis of other biologically important molecules and thus a better side-effect profile is expected for these inhibitors.
Several classes of squalene synthase inhibitors (SQSIs), such as substrate or transition-state analogues, zaragozic acids or 2,8- dioxabicyclo[3.2.1]octane derivatives, dicarboxylic acid and quinuclidine derivatives, 4,1-benzoxazepine as well as substituted morpholine derivatives, have been studied as potent inhibitors of squalene synthase. So far only one benzoxazepine derivative (TAK-475) has been evaluated in advanced clinical trials. In this article we review the up to date research and literature on the therapeutic potential of this relatively new class of compounds, the drug discovery efforts towards the development of active squalene synthase inhibitors, their activity profile and effectiveness, as well as their structure-activity relationships.
Keywords: Anti-dyslipidemic, cholesterol biosynthesis, in vitro, in vivo, LDL, triglycerides, hyperlipidemia, atherosclerosis, squalestatins, quinuclidines, morpholines, benzoxazepine, lapaquistat, antibiotics
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