Development of the thyroid hormone receptor beta-subtype agonist KB-141: a strategy for body weight reduction and lipid lowering with minimal cardiac side effects

Cardiovasc Drug Rev. Summer 2005;23(2):133-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1527-3466.2005.tb00161.x.


Few treatments for obesity exist and improvements for treatment of hyperlipidemia are still desirable. Thyroid hormone receptors (TRs) regulate body weight, adiposity, and cholesterol levels. However, thyroid hormones can have deleterious effects, particularly cardiac acceleration, that limits the use of hormones in the treatment of obesity. There is evidence that the TRbeta subtype mediates lowering of blood cholesterol levels and possibly elevation of metabolic rate, whereas TRalpha appears to control heart rate. In studies, described in this review article, we examined the effects of selective TRbeta activation on metabolic rate and heart rate in mice, rats and monkeys. T3 had a greater effect on increasing heart rate in wild type (WT) than in TRalpha-/- mice (ED15 values of 34 and 469 nmol/kg/day, respectively). T3 increased metabolic rate (MVO2) in both WT and TRalpha-/- mice, but the effect on TRalpha-/- mice was less pronounced compared to WT mice. Stimulation of MVO2 is mediated by both TRalpha and TRbeta, but with different profiles. In cholesterol-fed rats, KB-141, a selective TRbeta agonist, increased MVO2 with a 10-fold selectivity and lowered cholesterol with a 27-fold selectivity vs. tachycardia. In primates, KB-141 caused significant, cholesterol, Lp(a) and body weight reduction after 1 week of treatment with no effect on heart rate. These data suggest that selective TRbeta agonists may represent a novel class of drugs for the treatment of obesity, hypercholesterolemia and elevated Lp(a), which may make them useful therapeutics for patients with metabolic syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cholesterol / administration & dosage
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Heart / drug effects
  • Heart / physiology
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / drug therapy*
  • Hypercholesterolemia / metabolism
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Phenyl Ethers / pharmacokinetics
  • Phenyl Ethers / pharmacology
  • Phenyl Ethers / therapeutic use*
  • Phenylacetates / pharmacokinetics
  • Phenylacetates / pharmacology
  • Phenylacetates / therapeutic use*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Thyroid Hormone Receptors beta / agonists*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Weight Loss / drug effects


  • KB 141
  • Phenyl Ethers
  • Phenylacetates
  • Thyroid Hormone Receptors beta
  • Cholesterol