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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2009 Nov;331(2):470-84. doi: 10.1124/jpet.109.157636. Epub 2009 Aug 24.

In vitro and in vivo properties of 3-tert-butyl-7-(5-methylisoxazol-3-yl)-2-(1-methyl-1H-1,2,4-triazol-5-ylmethoxy)-pyrazolo[1,5-d]-[1,2,4]triazine (MRK-016), a GABAA receptor alpha5 subtype-selective inverse agonist.

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Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories, Neuroscience Research Centre, Harlow, Essex, United Kingdom.


3-tert-Butyl-7-(5-methylisoxazol-3-yl)-2-(1-methyl-1H-1,2,4-triazol-5-ylmethoxy)-pyrazolo[1,5-d][1,2,4]triazine (MRK-016) is a pyrazolotriazine with an affinity of between 0.8 and 1.5 nM for the benzodiazepine binding site of native rat brain and recombinant human alpha1-, alpha2-, alpha3-, and alpha5-containing GABA(A) receptors. It has inverse agonist efficacy selective for the alpha5 subtype, and this alpha5 inverse agonism is greater than that of the prototypic alpha5-selective compound 3-(5-methylisoxazol-3-yl)-6-[(1-methyl-1,2,3-triazol-4-hdyl)methyloxy]-1,2,4-triazolo[3,4-a]phthalazine (alpha5IA). Consistent with its greater alpha5 inverse agonism, MRK-016 increased long-term potentiation in mouse hippocampal slices to a greater extent than alpha5IA. MRK-016 gave good receptor occupancy after oral dosing in rats, with the dose required to produce 50% occupancy being 0.39 mg/kg and a corresponding rat plasma EC(50) value of 15 ng/ml that was similar to the rhesus monkey plasma EC(50) value of 21 ng/ml obtained using [(11)C]flumazenil positron emission tomography. In normal rats, MRK-016 enhanced cognitive performance in the delayed matching-to-position version of the Morris water maze but was not anxiogenic, and in mice it was not proconvulsant and did not produce kindling. MRK-016 had a short half-life in rat, dog, and rhesus monkey (0.3-0.5 h) but had a much lower rate of turnover in human compared with rat, dog, or rhesus monkey hepatocytes. Accordingly, in human, MRK-016 had a longer half-life than in preclinical species ( approximately 3.5 h). Although it was well tolerated in young males, with a maximal tolerated single dose of 5 mg corresponding to an estimated occupancy in the region of 75%, MRK-016 was poorly tolerated in elderly subjects, even at a dose of 0.5 mg, which, along with its variable human pharmacokinetics, precluded its further development.

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