A series of 18 1-[(1,2-diphenyl-1H-4-imidazolyl)methyl]-4-piperazines (1a-r) were designed and synthesized as possible ligands with mixed dopamine (DA) D(2)/serotonin 5-HT(1A) affinity, with the aim of identifying novel compounds with neurochemical and pharmacological properties similar to those of clozapine. The binding profile at D(2) like, 5-HT(1A), and 5-HT(2A) receptors of title compounds was determined. Modifications made in the phenyl rings of the parent compound (1a) produced congeners endowed with a broad range of binding affinities for DA D(2) like, serotonin 5-HT(1A), and 5-HT(2A) receptors, with IC(50) values ranging from 25 to >10,000 nM. As for the modification of the piperazine N(4)-phenyl ring, the affinities for both D(2) like and 5-HT(1A) receptors were progressively increased by introduction of ortho-methoxy and ethoxy groups (1b,o, respectively). Data revealed the presence of a para-chloro substituent in 1g to be associated with a relatively high affinity and substantial selectivity for D(2) like receptors, whereas the meta-chloro analogue 1f exhibited preferential affinity for 5-HT(1A) receptors. A quantitative structure-affinity relationship analysis of the measured binding data resulted in regression equations that highlighted substituent physicochemical properties modulating the binding to subtypes 1A and 2A of serotonin 5-HT receptors but not to D(2) like receptors. Thus, besides an electron-withdrawing field effect and ortho substitution, which both influence binding to serotonin 5-HT receptor subtypes, though to a different extent as revealed by regression coefficients in the multiparametric regression equations, the affinity of congeners 1a-r to 5-HT(1A) receptors proved to be linearly correlated with volume/polarizability descriptors, whereas their affinity to 5-HT(2A) receptors correlated with lipophilicity constants through a parabolic relationship. 1-[(1,2-Diphenyl-1H-4-imidazolyl)methyl]-4-(2-methoxyphenyl)piperazine (1b), with a D(2)/5-HT(1A) IC(50) ratio of approximately 1, was selected for a further pharmacological study. In rats, the intraperitoneal administration of compound 1b, like that of clozapine, induced an increase in the extracellular concentration of DA measured in the medial prefrontal cortex. Furthermore, 1b and clozapine each inhibited GABA-evoked Cl(-) currents at recombinant GABA(A) receptors expressed in Xenopus oocytes. These findings suggest that compound 1b may represent an interesting prototype of a novel class of drugs endowed with a neurochemical profile similar to that of atypical antipsychotics.
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 10/2002; 45(21):4655-68. DOI:10.1021/jm020848t · 5.48 Impact Factor