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IMPORTANCE OF THE FIELD: The prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes is rising and reaching pandemic proportions. For this reason, identification of novel therapeutic targets is urgently needed. AREAS COVERED IN THIS REVIEW: The endoluminal enzyme 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11beta-HSD1) catalyzes glucocorticoid activation in key metabolic tissues including skeletal muscle, liver and adipose tissue, and is strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of obesity, type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. Selective 11beta-HSD1 inhibitors limit local glucocorticoid availability and improve insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, lipid profiles and atherosclerosis. To date, there is a paucity of clinical studies using selective 11beta-HSD1 inhibitors; however, early indications show that these compounds have great therapeutic potential. WHAT THE READER WILL GAIN: We present a comprehensive overview of the background to the development of selective 11beta-HSD1 inhibitors, the preclinical data supporting 11beta-HSD1 as a therapeutic target, and the current status of clinical trials of these agents. TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Selective 11beta-HSD1 inhibitors have the potential to improve insulin sensitivity and may ultimately add to the treatment options available for patients with type 2 diabetes. However, further clinical studies are urgently required.

Original publication




Journal article


Expert Opin Investig Drugs

Publication Date





1067 - 1076


11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1, 11-beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenases, Adipose Tissue, Animals, Clinical Trials as Topic, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Glucocorticoids, Humans, Hypoglycemic Agents, Insulin Resistance, Lipid Metabolism, Liver, Metabolic Syndrome, Mice, Obesity