Repurposing Benzbromarone for Familial Amyloid Polyneuropathy: A New Transthyretin Tetramer Stabilizer

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Sep 28;21(19):7166. doi: 10.3390/ijms21197166.


Transthyretin (TTR) is a homotetrameric protein involved in human amyloidosis, including familial amyloid polyneuropathy (FAP). Discovering small-molecule stabilizers of the TTR tetramer is a therapeutic strategy for these diseases. Tafamidis, the only approved drug for FAP treatment, is not effective for all patients. Herein, we discovered that benzbromarone (BBM), a uricosuric drug, is an effective TTR stabilizer and inhibitor against TTR amyloid fibril formation. BBM rendered TTR more resistant to urea denaturation, similarly to iododiflunisal (IDIF), a very potent TTR stabilizer. BBM competes with thyroxine for binding in the TTR central channel, with an IC50 similar to IDIF and tafamidis. Results obtained by isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) demonstrated that BBM binds TTR with an affinity similar to IDIF, tolcapone and tafamidis, confirming BBM as a potent binder of TTR. The crystal structure of the BBM-TTR complex shows two molecules binding deeply in the thyroxine binding channel, forming strong intermonomer hydrogen bonds and increasing the stability of the TTR tetramer. Finally, kinetic analysis of the ability of BBM to inhibit TTR fibrillogenesis at acidic pH and comparison with other stabilizers revealed that benzbromarone is a potent inhibitor of TTR amyloidogenesis, adding a new interesting scaffold for drug design of TTR stabilizers.

Keywords: benzbromarone; dibromophenol scaffold; drug; drug repurposing; native kinetic stabilization; transthyretin; transthyretin tetramer stabilizer.

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Benzbromarone / chemistry*
  • Benzbromarone / metabolism
  • Benzoxazoles / chemistry
  • Benzoxazoles / metabolism
  • Binding Sites
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Diflunisal / analogs & derivatives
  • Diflunisal / chemistry
  • Diflunisal / metabolism
  • Drug Repositioning*
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Kinetics
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Neuroprotective Agents / chemistry*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / metabolism
  • Prealbumin / agonists
  • Prealbumin / chemistry*
  • Prealbumin / genetics
  • Prealbumin / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Conformation, alpha-Helical
  • Protein Conformation, beta-Strand
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Protein Stability
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Thermodynamics
  • Thyroxine / chemistry*
  • Thyroxine / metabolism
  • Tolcapone / chemistry
  • Tolcapone / metabolism


  • Amyloid
  • Benzoxazoles
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Prealbumin
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • TTR protein, human
  • iododiflunisal
  • Benzbromarone
  • Diflunisal
  • tafamidis
  • Tolcapone
  • Thyroxine