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Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2017 Dec 15. pii: S0960-894X(17)31181-2. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2017.12.020. [Epub ahead of print]

Molecular determinants of loperamide and N-desmethyl loperamide binding in the hERG cardiac K+ channel.

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Integrated Drug Discovery, Sanofi US, 153-2nd Ave., Waltham, MA 02451, USA. Electronic address:
Prelinical Safety, Sanofi US, 153-2nd Ave., Waltham, MA 02451, USA.
Drug Metabolism & PK, Sanofi US, 153-2nd Ave., Waltham, MA 02451, USA.
Preclinical Safety, Sanofi US, 55 Corporate Blvd, Bridgewater, NJ 08807, USA.


Abuse of the common anti-diarrheal loperamide is associated with QT interval prolongation as well as development of the potentially fatal arrhythmia torsades de pointes. The mechanism underlying this cardiotoxicity is high affinity inhibition of the human ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG) cardiac K+ channel. N-Desmethyl loperamide is the major metabolite of loperamide and is a close structural relative of the parent molecule. To date no information is available regarding the affinity of N-desmethyl loperamide for human cardiac ion channels. The effects of N-desmethyl loperamide on various cloned human cardiac ion channels including hERG, KvLQT1/mink and Nav1.5 were studied and compared to that of the parent. N-Desmethyl loperamide was a much weaker (7.5-fold) inhibitor of hERG compared to loperamide. However, given the higher plasma levels of the metabolite relative to the parent, it is likely that N-desmethyl loperamide can contribute, at least secondarily, to the cardiotoxicity observed with loperamide abuse. We used the recently solved cryo-EM structure of the hERG channel together with previously published inhibitors, to understand the basis of the interactions as well as the difference that a single methyl plays in the hERG channel blocking affinities of these two compounds.


Cryo-EM docking; KvLQT1; Loperamide; N-Desmethyl loperamide; Nav1.5; QRS prolongation; QT prolongation; RDOIQAHITMMDAJ-UHFFFAOYSA-N; ZMOPTLXEYOVARP-UHFFFAOYSA-N; hERG; mink


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