The bioactive conformation of aminoalkylindoles at the cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors: Insights gained from (E)- and (Z)-naphthylidene indenes

P H Reggio, S Basu-Dutt, J Barnett-Norris, M T Castro, D P Hurst, H H Seltzman, M J Roche, A F Gilliam, B F Thomas, L A Stevenson, R G Pertwee, M E Abood

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The aminoalkylindoles (AAIs) are agonists at both the cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors. To determine whether the s-trans or s-cis form of AAIs is their receptor-appropriate conformation, two pairs of rigid AAI analogues were studied. These rigid analogues are naphthylidene-substituted aminoalkylindenes that lack the carbonyl oxygen of the AAIs. Two pairs of (E)- and (Z)-naphthylidene indenes (C-2 H and C-2 Me) were considered. In each pair, the E geometric isomer is intended to mimic the s-trans form of the AAIs, while the Z geometric isomer is intended to mimic the s-cis form. Complete conformational analyses of two AAIs, pravadoline (2) and WIN-55,212-2 (1), and of each indene were performed using the semiempirical method AM1. S-trans and s-cis conformations of 1 and 2 were identified. AM1 single-point energy calculations revealed that when 1 and each indene were overlayed at their corresponding indole/indene rings, the (E)- and (Z)-indenes were able to overlay naphthyl rings with the corresponding s-trans or s-cis conformer of 1 with an energy expense of 1.13/0.69 kcal/mol for the C-2 H (E/Z)-indenes and 0.82/0.74 kcal/mol for the C-2 Me (E/Z)-indenes. On the basis of the hypothesis that aromatic stacking is the predominant interaction of AAIs such as 1 at the CB receptors and on the demonstration that the C-2 H (E/Z)- and C-2 Me (E/Z)-indene isomers can mimic the positions of the aromatic systems in the s-trans and s-cis conformers of 1, the modeling results support the previously established use of indenes as rigid analogues of the AAIs. A synthesis of the naphthylidene indenes was developed using Horner-Wittig chemistry that afforded the Z isomer in the C-2 H series, which was not produced in significant amounts from an earlier reported indene/aldehyde condensation reaction. This approach was extended to the C-2 Me series as well. Photochemical interconversions in both the C-2 H and C-2 Me series were also successful in obtaining the less favored isomer.

Thus, the photochemical process can be used to provide quantities of the minor isomers C-2 H/Z and C-2 Me/E. The CB1 and. CB2 affinities as well as the activity of each compound in the twitch response of the guinea pig ileum (GPI) assay were assessed. The E isomer in each series was found to have the higher affinity for both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. In the rat brain membrane assay versus [H-3]CP-55,940, the K-i's for the C-2 H/C-2 Me series were 2.72/2.89 nM (E isomer) and 148/1945 nM (Z isomer). In membrane assays versus [H-3]SR141716A, a two-site model was indicated for the C-2 H/C-2 Me (E isomers) with K-i's of 10.8/9.44 nM for the higher-affinity site and 611/602 nM for the lower-affinity site. For the Z isomers, a one-site model was indicated with K-i's of 928/2178 nM obtained for the C2 H/C-2 Me analogues, respectively. For the C-2 H/C-2 Me series, the CB2 K-i's obtained using a cloned cell line were 2.72/2.05 nM (E isomer) and 132/658 nM (Z isomer). In the GPI assay, the relative order of potency was C-2 H E greater-than C-2 Me E greater-than C-2 H Z greater-than C-2 Me Z. The C-2 H E isomer was found to be equipotent with 1, while the C-2 Me Z isomer was inactive at concentrations up to 3.16 mu M. Thus, results indicate that the E geometric isomer in each: pair of analogues is the isomer with the higher CB1 and CB2 affinities and the higher pharmacological potency. Taken together, results reported here support the hypothesis that the s-trans conformation of AAIs such as 1 is the preferred conformation for interaction at both the CB1 and CB2 receptors and that aromatic stacking may be an important interaction for AAIs at these receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5177-5187
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 1998




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