International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology. LXXXII: Nomenclature and Classification of Hydroxy-carboxylic Acid Receptors (GPR81, GPR109A, and GPR109B)

Pharmacol Rev. 2011 Jun;63(2):269-90. doi: 10.1124/pr.110.003301. Epub 2011 Mar 31.


The G-protein-coupled receptors GPR81, GPR109A, and GPR109B share significant sequence homology and form a small group of receptors, each of which is encoded by clustered genes. In recent years, endogenous ligands for all three receptors have been described. These endogenous ligands have in common that they are hydroxy-carboxylic acid metabolites, and we therefore have proposed that this receptor family be named hydroxy-carboxylic acid (HCA) receptors. The HCA(1) receptor (GPR81) is activated by 2-hydroxy-propanoic acid (lactate), the HCA(2) receptor (GPR109A) is a receptor for the ketone body 3-hydroxy-butyric acid, and the HCA(3) receptor (GPR109B) is activated by the β-oxidation intermediate 3-hydroxy-octanoic acid. HCA(1) and HCA(2) receptors are found in most mammalian species, whereas the HCA(3) receptor is present only in higher primates. The three receptors have in common that they are expressed in adipocytes and are coupled to G(i)-type G-proteins mediating antilipolytic effects in fat cells. HCA(2) and HCA(3) receptors are also expressed in a variety of immune cells. HCA(2) is a receptor for the antidyslipidemic drug nicotinic acid (niacin) and related compounds, and there is an increasing number of synthetic ligands mainly targeted at HCA(2) and HCA(3) receptors. The aim of this article is to give an overview on the discovery and pharmacological characterization of HCAs, and to introduce an International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR)-recommended nomenclature. We will also discuss open questions regarding this receptor family as well as their physiological role and therapeutic potential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Humans
  • International Agencies
  • Models, Molecular
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / classification*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / classification*
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / genetics
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism
  • Terminology as Topic*


  • HCAR1 protein, human
  • HCAR2 protein, human
  • HCAR3 protein, human
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Nicotinic