Mechanisms of inverse agonism at G-protein-coupled receptors

Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2002 Feb;23(2):89-95. doi: 10.1016/s0165-6147(02)01993-4.


Many drugs with important therapeutic actions that had been assumed to be antagonists at G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) have been shown to be inverse agonists. For both basic pharmacology and drug design it is important to understand the mechanisms whereby these drugs achieve their effects. It had been assumed that these drugs achieved their effects by stabilizing an inactive state of the receptor (R) at the expense of a partially activated state (R*). In this article, I consider this and other mechanisms that could explain inverse agonist actions, and conclude that more than one mechanism can apply to inverse agonism at GPCRs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / agonists*
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / agonists*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / chemistry
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology*


  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • GTP-Binding Proteins