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J Med Chem. 2007 Aug 9;50(16):3765-76. Epub 2007 Jul 11.

Probes for narcotic receptor mediated phenomena. 34. Synthesis and structure-activity relationships of a potent mu-agonist delta-antagonist and an exceedingly potent antinociceptive in the enantiomeric C9-substituted 5-(3-hydroxyphenyl)-N-phenylethylmorphan series.

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Drug Design and Synthesis Section, Chemical Biology Research Branch, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, DHHS, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Both of the enantiomers of 5-(3-hydroxyphenyl)-N-phenylethylmorphan with C9alpha-methyl, C9-methylene, C9-keto, and C9alpha- and C9beta-hydroxy substituents were synthesized and pharmacologically evaluated. Three of the 10 compounds, (1R,5R,9S)-(-)-9-hydroxy-5-(3-hydroxyphenyl-2-phenylethyl-2-azabicyclo[3.3.1]nonane ((1R,5R,9S)-(-)-10), (1R,5S)-(+)-5-(3-hydroxyphenyl)-9-methylene-2-phenethyl-2-azabicyclo[3.3.1]nonane ((1R,5S)-(+)-14), and (1R,5S,9R)-(-)-5-(3-hydroxyphenyl)-9-methyl-2-phenethyl-2-azabicyclo[3.3.1]nonane ((1R,5S,9R)-(+)-15) had subnanomolar affinity at mu-opioid receptors (Ki = 0.19, 0.19, and 0.63 nM, respectively). The (1R,5S)-(+)-14 was found to be a mu-opioid agonist and a mu-, delta-, and kappa-antagonist in [35S]GTP-gamma-S assays and was approximately 50 times more potent than morphine in a number of acute and subchronic pain assays, including thermal and visceral models of nociception. The (1R,5R,9S)-(-)-10 compound with a C9-hydroxy substituent axially oriented to the piperidine ring (C9beta-hydroxy) was a mu-agonist about 500 times more potent than morphine. In the single-dose suppression assay, it was greater than 1000 times more potent than morphine. It is the most potent known phenylmorphan antinociceptive. The molecular structures of these compounds were energy minimized with density functional theory at the B3LYP/6-31G* level and then overlaid onto (1R,5R,9S)-(-)-10 using the heavy atoms in the morphan moiety as a common docking point. Based on modeling, the spatial arrangement of the protonated nitrogen atom and the 9beta-OH substituent in (1R,5R,9S)-(-)-10 may facilitate the alignment of a putative water chain enabling proton transfer to a nearby proton acceptor group in the mu-opioid receptor.

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