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J Med Chem. 2000 Jan 27;43(2):292-300.

Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors: synthesis of membrane-impermeant low molecular weight sulfonamides possessing in vivo selectivity for the membrane-bound versus cytosolic isozymes.

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Laboratorio di Chimica Inorganica e Bioinorganica, Università degli Studi, Via Gino Capponi 7, I-50121 Florence, Italy.


Aromatic/heterocyclic sulfonamides act as strong inhibitors of the zinc enzyme carbonic anhydrase (CA; EC, but the presently available compounds do not generally discriminate between the 14 isozymes isolated in higher vertebrates. Thus, clinically used drugs from this class of pharmacological agents show many undesired side effects due to unselective inhibition of all CA isozymes present in a tissue/organ. Here we propose a new approach for the selective in vivo inhibition of membrane-bound versus cytosolic CA isozymes with a new class of positively charged, membrane-impermeant sulfonamides. This approach is based on the attachment of trisubstituted-pyridinium-methylcarboxy moieties (obtained from 2,4, 6-trisubstituted-pyrylium salts and glycine) to the molecules of classical aromatic/heterocyclic sulfonamides possessing free amino, imino, hydrazino, or hydroxyl groups in their molecules. Efficient in vitro inhibition (in the nanomolar range) was observed with some of the new derivatives against three investigated CA isozymes: i.e., hCA I, hCA II (cytosolic forms), and bCA IV (membrane-bound isozyme) (h = human isozyme; b = bovine isozyme). Due to their salt-like character, the new type of inhibitors reported here, unlike the classical, clinically used compounds (such as acetazolamide, methazolamide, and ethoxzolamide), are unable to penetrate through biological membranes, as shown by ex vivo and in vivo perfusion experiments in rats. The level of bicarbonate excreted into the urine of the experimental animals perfused with solutions of the new and classical inhibitors undoubtedly proved that: (i) when using the new type of positively charged sulfonamides, only the membrane-bound enzyme (CA IV) was inhibited, whereas the cytosolic isozymes (CA I and II) were not affected; (ii) in the experiments in which the classical compounds (acetazolamide, benzolamide, etc.) were used, unselective inhibition of all CA isozymes (I, II, and IV) has been evidenced.

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