Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder causing endocrine, musculoskeletal, and neurological dysfunction. PWS is caused by the inactivation of contiguous genes, complicating the development of targeted therapeutics. Clinical trials are now underway in PWS, with more trials to be implemented in the next few years. PWS-like endophenotypes are recapitulated in gene-targeted mice in which the function of one or more PWS genes is disrupted. These animal models can guide priorities for clinical trials or provide information about efficacy of a compound within the context of the specific disease. We now review the current status of preclinical studies that measure the effect of therapeutics on PWS-like endophenotypes. Seven categories of therapeutics (oxytocin and related compounds, K+-ATP channel agonists, melanocortin 4 receptor agonists, incretin mimetics and/or GLP-1 receptor agonists, cannabinoids, ghrelin agents, and Caralluma fimbriata [cactus] extract) have been tested for their effect on endophenotypes in both PWS animal models and clinical trials. Many other therapeutics have been tested in clinical trials, but not preclinical models of PWS or vice versa. Fostering dialogs among investigators performing preclinical validation of animal models and those implementing clinical studies will accelerate the discovery and translation of therapies into clinical practice in PWS.
Keywords: Prader-Willi syndrome; cannabinoid; diazoxide; growth hormone; melanocortin; mouse models of disease; oxytocin; preclinical studies.