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Common angiotensin receptor blockers may directly modulate the immune system via VDR, PPAR and CCR2b

Trevor G Marshall1*, Robert E Lee2 and Frances E Marshall3

Author Affiliations

1 Autoimmunity Research Foundation, Thousand Oaks, California 91360, USA

2 Black Hawk College, Moline, Illinois 61443, USA

3 Los Robles Regional Medical Centre, Thousand Oaks, California 91360, USA

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Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling 2006, 3:1  doi:10.1186/1742-4682-3-1

Published: 10 January 2006



There have been indications that common Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARBs) may be exerting anti-inflammatory actions by directly modulating the immune system. We decided to use molecular modelling to rapidly assess which of the potential targets might justify the expense of detailed laboratory validation. We first studied the VDR nuclear receptor, which is activated by the secosteroid hormone 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin-D. This receptor mediates the expression of regulators as ubiquitous as GnRH (Gonadatrophin hormone releasing hormone) and the Parathyroid Hormone (PTH). Additionally we examined Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma (PPARgamma), which affects the function of phagocytic cells, and the C-CChemokine Receptor, type 2b, (CCR2b), which recruits monocytes to the site of inflammatory immune challenge.


Telmisartan was predicted to strongly antagonize (Ki≈0.04nmol) the VDR. The ARBs Olmesartan, Irbesartan and Valsartan (Ki≈10 nmol) are likely to be useful VDR antagonists at typical in-vivo concentrations. Candesartan (Ki≈30 nmol) and Losartan (Ki≈70 nmol) may also usefully inhibit the VDR. Telmisartan is a strong modulator of PPARgamma (Ki≈0.3 nmol), while Losartan (Ki≈3 nmol), Irbesartan (Ki≈6 nmol), Olmesartan and Valsartan (Ki≈12 nmol) also seem likely to have significant PPAR modulatory activity. Olmesartan andIrbesartan (Ki≈9 nmol) additionally act as antagonists of a theoretical modelof CCR2b. Initial validation of this CCR2b model was performed, and a proposed model for the AngiotensinII Type1 receptor (AT2R1) has been presented.


Molecular modeling has proven valuable to generate testable hypotheses concerning receptor/ligand binding and is an important tool in drug design. ARBs were designed to act as antagonists for AT2R1, and it was not surprising to discover their affinity for the structurally similar CCR2b. However, this study also found evidence that ARBs modulate the activation of two key nuclear receptors-VDR and PPARgamma. If our simulations are confirmed by experiment, it is possible that ARBs may become useful as potent anti-inflammatory agents, in addition to their current indication as cardiovascular drugs.