Liver X Receptors as Therapeutic Targets for Managing Cholesterol: Implications for Atherosclerosis and Other Inflammatory Conditions

Clin Lipidol. 2009 Feb;4(1):29-40. doi: 10.2217/17584299.4.1.29.


Atherosclerosis is a disease characterized by excess cholesterol and inflammation in the blood vessels. The liver X receptors (alpha and beta) are members of the nuclear hormone receptor family that are activated by endogenous cholesterol metabolites. These receptors are widely expressed with a tissue distribution that includes the liver, intestine and macrophage. Upon activation, these receptors have been shown to increase reverse cholesterol transport from the macrophage back to the liver to aid in the removal of excess cholesterol. More recently, they have also been shown to inhibit the inflammatory response in macrophages. These functions are accomplished through direct regulation of gene transcription. Herein, we will describe the key benefits and potential risks of targeting the LXRs for the treatment of atherosclerosis.