Carbenoxolone treatment attenuates symptoms of metabolic syndrome and atherogenesis in obese, hyperlipidemic mice

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Dec;293(6):E1517-28. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00522.2007. Epub 2007 Sep 18.


Glucocorticoids, which are well established to regulate body fat mass distribution, adipocyte lipolysis, hepatic gluconeogenesis, and hepatocyte VLDL secretion, are speculated to play a role in the pathology of metabolic syndrome. Recent focus has been on the activity of 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11beta-HSD1), which is capable of regenerating, and thus amplifying, glucocorticoids in key metabolic tissues such as liver and adipose tissue. To determine the effects of global 11beta-HSD1 inhibition on metabolic syndrome risk factors, we subcutaneously injected "Western"-type diet-fed hyperlipidemic mice displaying moderate or severe obesity [LDL receptor (LDLR)-deficient (LDLR(-/-)) mice and mice derived from heterozygous agouti (A(y)/a) and homozygous LDLR(-/-) breeding pairs (A(y)/a;LDLR(-/-) mice)] with the nonselective 11beta-HSD inhibitor carbenoxolone for 4 wk. Body composition throughout the study, end-point fasting plasma, and extent of hepatic steatosis and atherosclerosis were assessed. This route of treatment led to detection of high levels of carbenoxolone in liver and fat and resulted in decreased weight gain due to reduced body fat mass in both mouse models. However, only A(y)/a;LDLR(-/-) mice showed an effect of 11beta-HSD1 inhibition on fasting insulin and plasma lipids, coincident with a reduction in VLDL due to mildly increased VLDL clearance and dramatically decreased hepatic triglyceride production. A(y)/a;LDLR(-/-) mice also showed a greater effect of the drug on reducing atherosclerotic lesion formation. These findings indicate that subcutaneous injection of an 11beta-HSD1 inhibitor allows for the targeting of the enzyme in not only liver, but also adipose tissue, and attenuates many metabolic syndrome risk factors, with more pronounced effects in cases of severe obesity and hyperlipidemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • 11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1 / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue / enzymology
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Agouti Signaling Protein / genetics
  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Carbenoxolone / blood
  • Carbenoxolone / pharmacology
  • Carbenoxolone / therapeutic use*
  • Corticosterone / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Fatty Liver / drug therapy
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / pathology
  • Female
  • Hyperinsulinism / blood
  • Hyperinsulinism / drug therapy
  • Hyperlipidemias / complications
  • Hyperlipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Hyperlipidemias / metabolism
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL / blood
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL / metabolism
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Obese
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Receptors, LDL / deficiency
  • Receptors, LDL / genetics


  • Agouti Signaling Protein
  • Lipoproteins, VLDL
  • Receptors, LDL
  • a protein, mouse
  • 11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1
  • Carbenoxolone
  • Corticosterone