Anthraquinone derivatives as ADP-competitive inhibitors of liver pyruvate kinase

Eur J Med Chem. 2022 Apr 15:234:114270. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2022.114270. Epub 2022 Mar 8.


Liver pyruvate kinase (PKL) is a major regulator of metabolic flux and ATP production during liver cell glycolysis and is considered a potential drug target for the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In this study, we report the first ADP-competitive PKL inhibitors and identify several starting points for the further optimization of these inhibitors. Modeling and structural biology guided the optimization of a PKL-specific anthraquinone-based compound. A structure-activity relationship study of 47 novel synthetic derivatives revealed PKL inhibitors with half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) values in the 200 nM range. Despite the difficulty involved in studying a binding site as exposed as the ADP site, these derivatives feature expanded structural diversity and chemical spaces that may be used to improve their inhibitory activities against PKL. The obtained results expand the knowledge of the structural requirements for interactions with the ADP-binding site of PKL.

Keywords: ADP competitive inhibitors; Enzymatic inhibition; Liver pyruvate kinase; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Structure-activity relationship.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Diphosphate / pharmacology
  • Anthraquinones / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease*
  • Pyruvate Kinase* / metabolism


  • Anthraquinones
  • Adenosine Diphosphate
  • Pyruvate Kinase