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Discovery of 4H‑Chromen-4-one Derivatives as a New Class of Selective Rho Kinase (ROCK) Inhibitors, which Showed Potent Activity in ex Vivo Diabetic Retinopathy Models

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posted on 20.11.2019, 16:45 by Lanying Zhao, Yueshan Li, Yujiao Wang, Zeen Qiao, Zhuang Miao, Jiao Yang, Luyi Huang, Chenyu Tian, Linli Li, Danian Chen, Shengyong Yang
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a major cause of blindness, and there is a lack of effective treatment at present. Rho-associated coiled-coil containing serine/threonine protein kinases (ROCKs) have recently been suggested as potential targets for the DR treatment. We herein report the discovery of 4H-chromen-4-one derivatives as a new class of ROCK inhibitors. Structure–activity relationship analyses led to the identification of the most active compound, 4-(dimethylamino)-N-(3-{2-[(4-oxo-4H-chromen-7-yl)­oxy]­acetamido}­phenyl) (12j). This compound showed excellent kinase selectivity for ROCK I and ROCK II against 387 other kinases. In retinal explants, compound 12j protected retinal neurons from high glucose-induced oxidative stress and apoptosis-mediated cell death. Furthermore, 12j administration suppressed the improper proliferation of Müller cells and promoted the regression of vascular vessels in retinal explants cultured in a high glucose microenvironment. Collectively, our data suggest that 12j could be a potential lead compound for the treatment of DR, hence deserving further in-depth studies.