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J Med Chem. 1996 Oct 25;39(22):4515-9.

Head group analogs of arachidonylethanolamide, the endogenous cannabinoid ligand.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs 06269, USA.


Several analogs of an endogenous cannabimimetic, arachidonylethanolamide (anandamide), were synthesized to study the structural requirements of the ethanolamide head group. CB1 receptor affinities of the analogs were evaluated by a standard receptor binding assay using tritiated CP-55,940 as the radioligand and compared to anandamide which was shown to have a Ki of 78 nM. Replacement of the amide carbonyl oxygen by a sulfur atom had a detrimental effect on the CB1 affinity. The thio analogs of both anandamide and (R)-methanandamide showed very weak affinity for CB1. The secondary nature of the amidic nitrogen was also shown to be important for affinity, indicating a possible hydrogen-bonding interaction between the amide NH and the receptor. Introduction of a phenolic moiety in the head group resulted in the loss of receptor affinity except when a methylene spacer was introduced between the amidic nitrogen and the phenol. A select group of analogs were also tested for their affinity for the CB2 receptor using a mouse spleen preparation and were found to possess low affinities for the CB2 sites. Notably, anandamide and (R)-methanandamide demonstrated high selectivity for the CB1 receptor. Overall, the data presented here show that structural requirements of the head group of anandamide are rather stringent.

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