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J Med Chem. 1999 May 6;42(9):1556-75.

Novel potent and selective central 5-HT3 receptor ligands provided with different intrinsic efficacy. 2. Molecular basis of the intrinsic efficacy of arylpiperazine derivatives at the central 5-HT3 receptors.

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Dipartimento Farmaco Chimico Tecnologico, Università di Siena, Via Banchi di Sotto 55, 53100 Siena, Italy.


Novel 5-HT3 receptor ligands were designed and synthesized with the aim of obtaining deeper insight into the molecular basis of the intrinsic efficacy of arylpiperazines interacting with the central 5-HT3 receptor. The newly synthesized compounds and some previously published compounds belonging to the same class of heteroarylpiperazines were tested for their potential ability to displace [3H]granisetron from rat cortical membranes. These 5-HT3 receptor binding studies revealed subnanomolar affinity in several of the compounds under study. The most active ligands were quipazine derivatives bearing a phenyl group in the 4-position and various oxygenated alkyl side chains in the 3-position of the quinoline nucleus. Qualitative and theoretical quantitative structure-affinity relationship studies were carried out, and the interaction model for the 5-HT3 ligands related to quipazine with their receptor, proposed in part 1 of the present work, was updated to incorporate the latest data. The potential 5-HT3 agonist/antagonist activity of 12 selected compounds was assessed in vitro on the 5-HT3 receptor-dependent [14C]guanidinium uptake in NG 108-15 cells. Their intrinsic efficacy ranged from the 5-HT3 full agonist properties of compounds 7a and 8h, i to those of partial agonists 10a,d and antagonists 8b,d,e, and 9c, d,h,i. The comparison between these functional data and those relative to the previously described compounds suggested that in this class of 5-HT3 ligands the intrinsic efficacy is modulated in a rather subtle manner by the steric features of the heteroaryl moiety.

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