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Chem Res Toxicol. 2012 Oct 15;25(10):2138-52. doi: 10.1021/tx300243v. Epub 2012 Sep 27.

Insights into the novel hydrolytic mechanism of a diethyl 2-phenyl-2-(2-arylacetoxy)methyl malonate ester-based microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP) inhibitor.

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Pharmacokinetics, Dynamics, and Metabolism-New Chemical Entities, Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development, Groton, Connecticut 06340, USA.


Inhibition of intestinal and hepatic microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP) is a potential strategy for the treatment of dyslipidemia and related metabolic disorders. Inhibition of hepatic MTP, however, results in elevated liver transaminases and increased hepatic fat deposition consistent with hepatic steatosis. Diethyl 2-((2-(3-(dimethylcarbamoyl)-4-(4'-(trifluoromethyl)-[1,1'-biphenyl]-2-ylcarboxamido)phenyl)acetoxy)methyl)-2-phenylmalonate (JTT-130) is an intestine-specific inhibitor of MTP and does not cause increases in transaminases in short-term clinical trials in patients with dyslipidemia. Selective inhibition of intestinal MTP is achieved via rapid hydrolysis of its ester linkage by liver-specific carboxylesterase(s), resulting in the formation of an inactive carboxylic acid metabolite 1. In the course of discovery efforts around tissue-specific inhibitors of MTP, the mechanism of JTT-130 hydrolysis was examined in detail. Lack of ¹⁸O incorporation in 1 following the incubation of JTT-130 in human liver microsomes in the presence of H₂¹⁸O suggested that hydrolysis did not occur via a simple cleavage of the ester linkage. The characterization of atropic acid (2-phenylacrylic acid) as a metabolite was consistent with a hydrolytic pathway involving initial hydrolysis of one of the pendant malonate ethyl ester groups followed by decarboxylative fragmentation to 1 and the concomitant liberation of the potentially electrophilic acrylate species. Glutathione conjugates of atropic acid and its ethyl ester were also observed in microsomal incubations of JTT-130 that were supplemented with the thiol nucleophile. Additional support for the hydrolysis mechanism was obtained from analogous studies on diethyl 2-(2-(2-(3-(dimethylcarbamoyl)-4-(4'-trifluoromethyl)-[1,1'-biphenyl]-2-ylcarboxamido)phenyl)acetoxy)ethyl)-2-phenylmalonate (3), which cannot participate in hydrolysis via the fragmentation pathway because of the additional methylene group. Unlike the case with JTT-130, ¹⁸O was readily incorporated into 1 during the enzymatic hydrolysis of 3, suggestive of a mechanism involving direct hydrolytic cleavage of the ester group in 3. Finally, 3-(ethylamino)-2-(ethylcarbamoyl)-3-oxo-2-phenylpropyl 2-(3-(dimethylcarbamoyl)-4-(4'-(trifluoromethyl)-[1,1'-biphenyl]-2-ylcarboxamido)phenyl)acetate (4), which possessed an N,N-diethyl-2-phenylmalonamide substituent (in lieu of the diethyl-2-phenylmalonate motif in JTT-130) proved to be resistant to the hydrolytic cleavage/decarboxylative fragmentation pathway that yielded 1, a phenomenon that further confirmed our hypothesis. From a toxicological standpoint, it is noteworthy to point out that the liberation of the electrophilic acrylic acid species as a byproduct of JTT-130 hydrolysis is similar to the bioactivation mechanism established for felbamate, an anticonvulsant agent associated with idiosyncratic aplastic anemia and hepatotoxicity.

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