Citric acid cycle intermediates as ligands for orphan G-protein-coupled receptors

Nature. 2004 May 13;429(6988):188-93. doi: 10.1038/nature02488.


The citric acid cycle is central to the regulation of energy homeostasis and cell metabolism. Mutations in enzymes that catalyse steps in the citric acid cycle result in human diseases with various clinical presentations. The intermediates of the citric acid cycle are present at micromolar concentration in blood and are regulated by respiration, metabolism and renal reabsorption/extrusion. Here we show that GPR91 (ref. 3), a previously orphan G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), functions as a receptor for the citric acid cycle intermediate succinate. We also report that GPR99 (ref. 4), a close relative of GPR91, responds to alpha-ketoglutarate, another intermediate in the citric acid cycle. Thus by acting as ligands for GPCRs, succinate and alpha-ketoglutarate are found to have unexpected signalling functions beyond their traditional roles. Furthermore, we show that succinate increases blood pressure in animals. The succinate-induced hypertensive effect involves the renin-angiotensin system and is abolished in GPR91-deficient mice. Our results indicate a possible role for GPR91 in renovascular hypertension, a disease closely linked to atherosclerosis, diabetes and renal failure.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antihypertensive Agents / pharmacology
  • Captopril / pharmacology
  • Cattle
  • Cell Line
  • Citric Acid Cycle / physiology*
  • Cricetinae
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Ketoglutaric Acids / metabolism
  • Ketoglutaric Acids / pharmacology
  • Kidney / chemistry
  • Ligands
  • Mice
  • Models, Molecular
  • Pertussis Toxin / pharmacology
  • Protein Conformation
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / chemistry
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / deficiency
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Renin-Angiotensin System / physiology
  • Rhodopsin / chemistry
  • Succinic Acid / metabolism*
  • Succinic Acid / pharmacology
  • Swine


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Ketoglutaric Acids
  • Ligands
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Rhodopsin
  • Captopril
  • Succinic Acid
  • Pertussis Toxin