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ACS Chem Neurosci. 2013 Feb 20;4(2):261-5. doi: 10.1021/cn300223d. Epub 2012 Dec 7.

Synthesis and evaluation of methylated arylazepine compounds for PET imaging of 5-HT(2c) receptors.

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Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


The serotonin 5-HT(2c) receptor is implicated in a number of diseases including obesity, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. In order to ascribe the role of 5-HT(2c) in these diseases, a method for measuring 5-HT(2c )density and function in vivo, such as with positron emission tomography (PET), must be developed. Many high-affinity and relatively selective ligands exist for 5-HT(2c) but cannot be accessed with current radiosynthetic methods for use as PET radiotracers. We propose that N-methylation of an arylazepine moiety, a frequent structural feature in 5-HT(2c) ligands, may be a suitable method for producing new radiotracers for 5-HT(2c). The impact of N-methylation has not been previously reported. For the agonists that we selected herein, N-methylation was found to increase affinity up to 8-fold without impairing selectivity. Compound 5, an N-methylated azetidine-derived arylazepine, was found to be brain penetrant and reached a brain/blood ratio of 2.05:1. However, our initial test compound was rapidly metabolized within 20 min of administration and exhibited high nonspecific binding. N-Methylation, with 16 ± 3% isolated radiochemical yield (decay corrected), is robust and may facilitate screening other 5-HT(2c) ligands as radiotracers for PET.

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