Discovery of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα) activators with a ligand-screening system using a human PPARα-expressing cell line

Keisuke Tachibana, Tomohiro Yuzuriha, Ryotaro Tabata, Syohei Fukuda, Takashi Maegawa, Rika Takahashi, Keiichi Tanimoto, Hirofumi Tsujino, Kazuto Nunomura, Bangzhong Lin, Yoshiharu Matsuura, Toshiya Tanaka, Takao Hamakubo, Juro Sakai, Tatsuhiko Kodama, Tadayuki Kobayashi, Kenji Ishimoto, Hiroyuki Miyachi, Takefumi Doi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα) is a ligand-activated transcription factor that belongs to the superfamily of nuclear hormone receptors. PPARα is mainly expressed in the liver, where it activates fatty acid oxidation and lipoprotein metabolism and improves plasma lipid profiles. Therefore, PPARα activators are often used to treat patients with dyslipidemia. To discover additional PPARα activators as potential compounds for use in hypolipidemic drugs, here we established human hepatoblastoma cell lines with luciferase reporter expression from the promoters containing peroxisome proliferator-responsive elements (PPREs) and tetracycline-regulated expression of full-length human PPARα to quantify the effects of chemical ligands on PPARα activity. Using the established cell-based PPARα-activator screening system to screen a library of >12,000 chemical compounds, we identified several hit compounds with basic chemical skeletons different from those of known PPARα agonists. One of the hit compounds, a 1H-pyrazolo[3,4-b]pyridine-4-carboxylic acid derivative we termed compound 3, selectively up-regulated PPARα transcriptional activity, leading to PPARα target gene expression both in vitro and in vivo. Of note, the half-maximal effective concentrations of the hit compounds were lower than that of the known PPARα ligand fenofibrate. Finally, fenofibrate or compound 3 treatment of high fructose-fed rats having elevated plasma triglyceride levels for 14 days indicated that compound 3 reduces plasma triglyceride levels with similar efficiency as fenofibrate. These observations raise the possibility that 1H-pyrazolo[3,4-b]pyridine-4-carboxylic acid derivatives might be effective drug candidates for selective targeting of PPARα to manage dyslipidemia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10333-10343
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun 29


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