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Curr Top Med Chem. 2008;8(3):187-204.

Recent advances in the development of selective ligands for the cannabinoid CB(2) receptor.

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  • 1Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Savannah State University, Savannah, GA 31404, USA.


Two subtypes of the mammalian cannabinoid receptor have been identified and successfully cloned since 1990. The CB(1) receptor is primarily located in the central nervous system and the CB(2) receptor is almost exclusively expressed in cells of the immune system. The CB(1) and CB(2) receptors are both G-protein coupled receptors and are involved in the inhibition of adenylate cyclase. The CB(2) receptor is of particular importance due to its involvement in signal transduction in the immune system, making it a potential target for therapeutic immune intervention. A number of these selective ligands are derivatives of traditional dibenzopyran based cannabinoids. These include the very recently synthesized (2'R)-1-methoxy-3-(2'-methylbutyl)- Delta (8)-THC (JWH-359) which has a 224 fold selectivity for the CB(2) receptor, readily comparable to the well known 1-deoxy-3-(1',1'-dimethylbutyl)- Delta (8)-THC (JWH-133) which has 200 fold selectivity for the CB(2) receptor. Several 9-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinols have also been synthesized and are found to be selective high affinity ligands for the CB(2) receptor. These are 1-deoxy-9beta-hydroxy-dimethylhexylhexahydrocannabinol (JWH-361, K(i) = 2.7 nM) and 1-deoxy-9beta-hydroxy-dimethylpentylhexahydrocannabinol (JWH-300, K(i) = 5.3 nM). CB(2) selective cannabi-mimetic indoles include 1-(2,3-dichlorobenzoyl)-2-methyl-3-(2-[1-morpholine]ethyl)-5-methoxyindole (L768242), (R)-3-(2-Iodo-5-nitrobenzoyl)-1-(1-methyl-2-piperidinylmethyl)-1H-indole (AM1241) and 1-propyl-2-methyl-3-(1-naphthoyl) indole (JWH-015), which exhibit significant selectivity for the CB(2) receptor coupled with weak affinity for the CB(1) receptor. Bristol-Meyer Squibb has produced a phenylalanine derived cannabimimetic indole which possesses high CB(2) affinity (K(i) = 8 nM) and very low affinity for the CB(1) receptor (K(i) = 4000 nM). This review will discuss the current advances and recent results in the structure-activity relationships (SAR) of selective ligands for the cannabinoid CB(2) receptor.

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