Journal of medicinal chemistry

Naturally occurring pentacyclic triterpenes as inhibitors of glycogen phosphorylase: synthesis, structure-activity relationships, and X-ray crystallographic studies.

PMID 18517260


Twenty-five naturally occurring pentacyclic triterpenes, 15 of which were synthesized in this study, were biologically evaluated as inhibitors of rabbit muscle glycogen phosphorylase a (GPa). From SAR studies, the presence of a sugar moiety in triterpene saponins resulted in a markedly decreased activity ( 7, 18- 20) or no activity ( 21, 22). These saponins, however, might find their value as potential natural prodrugs which are much more water-soluble than their corresponding aglycones. To elucidate the mechanism of GP inhibition, we have determined the crystal structures of the GPb-asiatic acid and GPb-maslinic acid complexes. The X-ray analysis indicates that the inhibitors bind at the allosteric activator site, where the physiological activator AMP binds. Pentacyclic triterpenes represent a promising class of multiple-target antidiabetic agents that exert hypoglycemic effects, at least in part, through GP inhibition.