NOX Inhibitors: From Bench to Naxibs to Bedside

Mahmoud H. Elbatreek*, Hermann Mucke, Harald H.H.W. Schmidt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

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Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are ubiquitous metabolic products and important cellular signaling molecules that contribute to several biological functions. Pathophysiology arises when ROS are generated either in excess or in cell types or subcellular locations that normally do not produce ROS or when non-physiological types of ROS (e.g., superoxide instead of hydrogen peroxide) are formed. In the latter scenario, antioxidants were considered as the apparent remedy but, clinically, have consistently failed and even sometimes induced harm. The obvious reason for that is the non-selective ROS scavenging effects of antioxidants which interfere with both qualities of ROS, physiological and pathological. Therefore, it is essential to overcome this “antidote or neutralizer” strategy. We here review the most promising alternative approach by identifying the disease-relevant enzymatic sources of ROS, target these selectively, but leave physiological ROS signaling through other sources intact. Among all ROS sources, NADPH oxidases (NOX1-5 and DUOX1-2) stand out as their sole function is to produce ROS, whereas most other enzymatic sources only produce ROS as a by-product or upon biochemical uncoupling or damage. This qualifies NOXs as the main potential drug-target candidates in diseases associated with dysfunction in ROS signaling. As a reflection of this, the development of several NOX inhibitors has taken place. Recently, the WHO approved a new stem, “naxib,” which refers to NADPH oxidase inhibitors, and thereby recognized NOX inhibitors as a new therapeutic class. This has been announced while clinical trials with the first-in-class compound, setanaxib (initially known as GKT137831) had been initiated. We also review the differences between the seven NOX family members in terms of structure and function in health and disease and then focus on the most advanced NOX inhibitors with an exclusive focus on clinically relevant validations and applications. Therapeutically relevant NADPH oxidase isoforms type 1, 2, 4, and 5 (NOX1, NOX2, NOX4, NOX5). Of note, NOX5 is not present in mice and rats and thus pre-clinically less studied. NOX2, formerly termed gp91phox, has been correlated with many, too many, diseases and is rather relevant as genetic deficiency in chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), treated by gene therapy. Overproduction of ROS through NOX1, NOX4, and NOX5 leads to the indicated diseases states including atherosclerosis (red), a condition where NOX4 is surprisingly protective.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Experimental Pharmacology
EditorsHarald H. H. W. Schmidt, Pietro Ghezzi, Antonio Cuadrado
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-68510-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-68509-6
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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