ABSTRACT: A series of exceptionally potent agonists at neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) has been investigated. Several N-(3-pyridinyl) derivatives of bridged bicyclic diamines exhibit double-digit-picomolar binding affinities for the alpha 4 beta 2 subtype, placing them with epibatidine among the most potent nAChR ligands described to date. Structure-activity studies have revealed that substitutions, particularly hydrophilic groups in the pyridine 5-position, differentially modulate the agonist activity at ganglionic vs central nAChR subtypes, so that improved subtype selectivity can be demonstrated in vitro. Analgesic efficacy has been achieved across a broad range of pain states, including rodent models of acute thermal nociception, persistent pain, and neuropathic allodynia. Unfortunately, the hydrophilic pyridine substituents that were shown to enhance agonist selectivity for central nAChRs in vitro tend to limit CNS penetration in vivo, so that analgesic efficacy with an improved therapeutic window was not realized with those compounds.
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 08/2007; 50(15):3627-44. · 5.25 Impact Factor