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J Med Chem. 1998 Dec 31;41(27):5353-61.

Novel analogues of arachidonylethanolamide (anandamide): affinities for the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors and metabolic stability.

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Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences and of Molecular and Cell Biology and Institute of Materials Science, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269, USA.


Several analogues of the endogenous cannabinoid receptor ligand arachidonylethanolamide (anandamide) were synthesized and evaluated in order to study (a) the structural requirements for high-affinity binding to the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors and (b) their hydrolytic stability toward anandamide amidase. The series reported here was aimed at exploring structure-activity relationships (SAR) primarily with regard to stereoelectronic requirements of ethanolamido headgroup for interaction with the cannabinoid receptor active site. Receptor affinities, reported as Ki values, were obtained by a standard receptor binding assay using [3H]CP-55,940 as the radioligand, while stability toward the amidase was evaluated by comparing the Ki of each analogue in the presence and absence of phenylmethanesulfonyl fluoride (PMSF), a serine protease blocker and inhibitor of anandamide amidase. Introduction of a methyl group in the 1'- and 2'-positions or substitution of the ethanolamido headgroup with a butylamido group gave analogues with vastly improved biochemical stability. This is accomplished in some cases with increased receptor affinity. Conversely, oxazolyl and methyloxazolyl headgroups led to low-affinity analogues. Substitution of the hydroxyl group with electronegative substituents such as fluoro, chloro, allyl, and propargyl groups significantly increased receptor affinity but did not influence the biochemical stability. The 2'-chloro analogue of anandamide was found to have the highest affinity for CB1. Additionally, reversing the positions of the carbonyl and NH in the amido group produces retro-anandamides possessing considerably higher metabolic stability. Replacement of the arachidonyl tail with oleyl or linoleyl results in analogues with low affinities for both receptors. All of the analogues in this study showed high selectivity for the CB1 receptor over the peripheral CB2 receptor. The most potent analogues were tested for their ability to stimulate the binding of [35S]GTPgammaS to G-proteins and were shown to be potent cannabimimetic agonists. The results are discussed in terms of pharmacophoric features affecting receptor affinity and enzymatic stability.

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