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Reflection on design and testing of pancreatic alpha-amylase inhibitors: an in silico comparison between rat and rabbit enzyme models

Shiva Khalil-Moghaddam1, Azadeh Ebrahim-Habibi2, Parvin Pasalar3, Parichehreh Yaghmaei1* and Nasim Hayati-Roodbari1

Author Affiliations

1 Biology Department, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

2 Endocrinology and Metabolism Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

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DARU Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 2012, 20:77  doi:10.1186/2008-2231-20-77

Published: 20 November 2012



Inhibitors of pancreatic alpha-amylase are potential drugs to treat diabetes and obesity. In order to find compounds that would be effective amylase inhibitors, in vitro and in vivo models are usually used. The accuracy of models is limited, but these tools are nonetheless valuable. In vitro models could be used in large screenings involving thousands of chemicals that are tested to find potential lead compounds. In vivo models are still used as preliminary mean of testing compounds behavior in the whole organism. In the case of alpha-amylase inhibitors, both rats and rabbits could be chosen as in vivo models. The question was which animal could present more accuracy with regard to its pancreatic alpha-amylase.


As there is no crystal structure of these enzymes, a molecular modeling study was done in order to compare the rabbit and rat enzymes with the human one. The overall result is that rabbit enzyme could probably be a better choice in this regard, but in the case of large ligands, which could make putative interactions with the −4 subsite of pancreatic alpha-amylase, interpretation of results should be made cautiously.


Molecular modeling tools could be used to choose the most suitable model enzyme that would help to identify new enzyme inhibitors. In the case of alpha-amylase, three-dimensional structures of animal enzymes show differences with the human one which should be taken into account when testing potential new drugs.

Rat alpha-amylase; Rabbit alpha-amylase; Amylase inhibitor; Homology modeling; Docking