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J Med Chem. 2003 Nov 20;46(24):5208-21.

Synthesis, activity, and molecular modeling studies of novel human aldose reductase inhibitors based on a marine natural product.

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Instituto Biomar, S.A., Polígono Industrial, Edificio CEEI, 24231 Onzonilla, León, Spain.


Aldose reductase (ALR2) has been implicated in the etiology of diabetic complications, including blindness. Because of the limited number of currently available drugs for the prevention of these long-term complications, the discovery of new ALR2 inhibitors appears highly desirable. In this study, a polybrominated diphenyl ether (1) naturally occurring in a marine sponge was found to inhibit recombinant human ALR2 with an IC(50) of 6.4 microM. A series of polyhalogenated analogues that were synthesized and tested in vitro to explore the structure-activity relationships displayed various degrees of inhibitory activity. The most active compounds were also capable of preventing sorbitol accumulation inside human retinal cells. In this cell-based assay, the most potent synthesized analogue (16) showed a 17-fold increase in inhibitory activity compared to that of sorbinil (IC(50) = 0.24 vs 4 microM). A molecular representation of human ALR2 in complex with the natural product was built using homology modeling, automated docking, and energy refinement methods. AMBER parameters for the halogen atoms were derived and calibrated using condensed phase molecular dynamics simulations of fluorobenzene, chlorobenzene, and bromobenzene. Inhibitor binding is proposed to cause a conformational change similar to that recently reported for zenarestat. A free energy perturbation thermodynamic cycle allowed us to assess the importance of a crucial bromine atom that distinguishes the active lead compound from a much less active close natural analogue. Remarkably, the spatial location of this bromine atom is equivalent to that occupied by the only bromine atom present in zenarestat.

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