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Chem Res Toxicol. 2014 Sep 15;27(9):1586-97. doi: 10.1021/tx500212c. Epub 2014 Aug 15.

Identification and mitigation of a reactive metabolite liability associated with aminoimidazoles.

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  • 1Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, Infection IMED, and ‚Ä°Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Infection IMED, AstraZeneca India Pvt. Ltd. , Bangalore, India.


Reactive metabolites (RMs) have been implicated as causal factors in many drug-associated idiosyncratic toxicities. This study aims at identification and mitigation of an RM liability associated with aminoimidazole and amino(aza)benzimidazole structural motifs from an antimalarial project. Nineteen compounds with different structural modifications were studied in rat and human liver microsomes using glutathione (GSH) and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) as trapping agents for RM. Metabolite profiling of aminoimidazole compounds in initial studies revealed the presence of dihydrodiol metabolites suggestive of reactive epoxide precursors, confirmed by the identification of a dihydrohydroxy GSH conjugate in GSH supplemented incubations. Substitution of methyl group at a potential site of metabolism blocked the epoxidation; however, formation of an imine-methide RM was suspected. Masking the site of metabolism via benzimidazole and 4/7-azabenzimidazole resulted in the possible formation of quinone-imine intermediates as a product of bioactivation. Further, substitutions with electron withdrawing groups and steric crowding did not address this liability. Mitigation of bioactivation was achieved with 5/6-azabenzimidazole and with CF3 substitution at the 6-position of the 7-azabenzimidazole ring. Moreover, compounds devoid of imidazole -NH2 do not undergo bioactivation. This study, therefore, establishes aminoimidazole and amino(aza)benzimidazoles as potential toxicophores and describes ways to mitigate this bioactivation liability by chemical modification.

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