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Design, Synthesis, and Biological Evaluation of NAP Isosteres: A Switch from Peripheral to Central Nervous System Acting Mu-Opioid Receptor Antagonists

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journal contribution
posted on 08.03.2022, 07:03 by Piyusha P. Pagare, Mengchu Li, Yi Zheng, Abhishek S. Kulkarni, Samuel Obeng, Boshi Huang, Christian Ruiz, James C. Gillespie, Rolando E. Mendez, David L. Stevens, Justin L. Poklis, Matthew S. Halquist, William L. Dewey, Dana E. Selley, Yan Zhang
The μ opioid receptor (MOR) has been an intrinsic target to develop treatment of opioid use disorders (OUD). Herein, we report our efforts on developing centrally acting MOR antagonists by structural modifications of 17-cyclopropylmethyl-3,14-dihydroxy-4,5α-epoxy-6β-[(4′-pyridyl) carboxamido] morphinan (NAP), a peripherally acting MOR-selective antagonist. An isosteric replacement concept was applied and incorporated with physiochemical property predictions in the molecular design. Three analogs, namely, 25, 26, and 31, were identified as potent MOR antagonists in vivo with significantly fewer withdrawal symptoms than naloxone observed at similar doses. Furthermore, brain and plasma drug distribution studies supported the outcomes of our design strategy on these compounds. Taken together, our isosteric replacement of pyridine with pyrrole, furan, and thiophene provided insights into the structure–activity relationships of NAP and aided the understanding of physicochemical requirements of potential CNS acting opioids. These efforts resulted in potent, centrally efficacious MOR antagonists that may be pursued as leads to treat OUD.