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J Med Chem. 1997 Sep 12;40(19):2997-3008.

Dihydrobenzofuran analogues of hallucinogens. 4. Mescaline derivatives.

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Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, School of Pharmacy and Pharmacal Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA.


Dihydrobenzofuran and tetrahydrobenzodifuran functionalities were employed as conformationally restricted bioisosteres of the aromatic methoxy groups in the prototypical hallucinogen, mescaline (1). Thus, 4-(2-aminoethyl)-6,7-dimethoxy-2,3-dihydrobenzofuran hydrochloride (8) and 1-(8-methoxy-2,3,5,6-tetrahydrobenzo[1,2-b:5,4-b']difuran-4-yl)-2- aminoethane hydrochloride (9) were prepared and evaluated along with 1 for activity in the two-lever drug discrimination (DD) paradigm in rats trained to discriminate saline from LSD tartrate (0.08 mg/kg). Also, 1, 8, and 9 were assayed for their ability to displace [3H]ketanserin from rat cortical homogenate 5-HT2A receptors and [3H]8-OH-DPAT from rat hippocampal homogenate 5-HT1A receptors. In addition, these compounds were evaluated for their ability to compete for agonist and antagonist binding to cells expressing cloned human 5-HT2A, 5-HT2B, and 5-HT2C receptors. Finally, agonist efficacy was assessed by measurement of phosphoinositide hydrolysis in NIH 3T3 cells expressing the rat 5-HT2A or 5-HT2C receptors. Although 1 fully substituted for LSD in the DD assays (ED50 = 33.5 mumol/kg), neither 8 nor 9 substituted for LSD, with just 50% of the rats administered 8 selecting the drug lever, and only 29% of the rats administered 9 selecting the drug lever. All of the test compounds had micromolar affinity for the 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A receptors in rat brain homogenate. Curiously, the rank order of affinities of the compounds at 5-HT2A sites was opposite their order of potency in the behavioral assay. An evaluation for ability to stimulate phosphoinositide turnover as a measure of functional efficacy revealed that all the compounds were of approximately equal efficacy to serotonin in 5-HT2C receptors. At 5-HT2A receptors, however, 8 and 9 were significantly less efficacious, eliciting only 61 and 45%, respectively, of the maximal response. These results are consistent with the proposed mechanism of action for phenethylamine hallucinogens, that such compounds must be full agonists at the 5-HT2A receptor subtype. In contrast to the 2,5-dimethoxy-substituted phenethylamines, where rigidification of the methoxy groups had no deleterious effect on activity, the loss of activity in the 3,4,5-trioxygenated mescaline analogues may suggest that the 3 and 5 methoxy groups must remain conformationally mobile to enable receptor activation.

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