John W Huffman

RTI International, Durham, North Carolina, United States

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Publications (90)195.31 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Context: Beta-arrestins are known to couple to some G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) to regulate receptor internalization, G-protein coupling and signal transduction, but have not been investigated for most receptors, and for very few receptors in vivo. Previous studies have shown that beta-arrestin2 deletion enhances the efficacy of specific cannabinoid agonists. Objective: The present study hypothesized that brain cannabinoid CB1 receptors are regulated by beta-arrestin2. Methods: Beta-arrestin2+/+ and -/- mice were used. Western blotting was used to determine the relative levels of each beta-arrestin subtype in mouse brain. Receptor binding was measured to determine whether deletion of beta-arrestin2 influences agonist binding to brain CB1 receptors, or the subcellular localization of CB1 in brain membranes subjected to differential centrifugation. A variety of cannabinoid agonists from different chemical classes were investigated for their ability to activate G-proteins in the presence and absence of beta-arrestin2 in cerebellum, hippocampus and cortex. Results: No differences were found in the density of beta-arrestin1 or cannabinoid CB1 receptors in several brains of beta-arrestin2+/+ versus -/- mice. Differences between genotypes were found in the proportion of high- and low-affinity agonist binding sites in brain areas that naturally express higher levels of beta-arrestin2. Cortex from beta-arrestin2-/- mice contained less CB1 in the P1 fraction and more CB1 in the P2 fraction compared to beta-arrestin2+/+. Of the agonists assayed for activity, only Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) exhibited a difference between genotypes, in that it was less efficacious in beta-arrestin2-/- than +/+ mouse membranes. Conclusion: Beta-arrestin2 regulates cannabinoid CB1 receptors in brain.
    Journal of Receptor and Signal Transduction Research 10/2013; · 1.63 Impact Factor
  • Jenny L Wiley, Julie A Marusich, John W Huffman
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    ABSTRACT: Originally synthesized for research purposes, indole- and pyrrole-derived synthetic cannabinoids are the most common psychoactive compounds contained in abused products marketed as "spice" or "herbal incense." While CB1 and CB2 receptor affinities are available for most of these research chemicals, in vivo pharmacological data are sparse. In mice, cannabinoids produce a characteristic profile of dose-dependent effects: antinociception, hypothermia, catalepsy and suppression of locomotion. In combination with receptor binding data, this tetrad battery has been useful in evaluation of the relationship between the structural features of synthetic cannabinoids and their in vivo cannabimimetic activity. Here, published tetrad studies are reviewed and additional in vivo data on synthetic cannabinoids are presented. Overall, the best predictor of likely cannabimimetic effects in the tetrad tests was good CB1 receptor affinity. Further, retention of good CB1 affinity and in vivo activity was observed across a wide array of structural manipulations of substituents of the prototypic aminoalkylindole molecule WIN55,212-2, including substitution of an alkyl for the morpholino group, replacement of an indole core with a pyrrole or phenylpyrrole, substitution of a phenylacetyl or tetramethylcyclopropyl group for JWH-018's naphthoyl, and halogenation of the naphthoyl group. This flexibility of cannabinoid ligand-receptor interactions has been a particular challenge for forensic scientists who have struggled to identify and regulate each new compound as it has appeared on the drug market. One of the most pressing future research needs is determination of the extent to which the pharmacology of these synthetic cannabinoids may differ from those of classical cannabinoids.
    Life sciences 09/2013; · 2.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The increasing prevalence and use of herbal mixtures containing synthetic cannabinoids presents a growing public health concern and legal challenge for society. In contrast to the plant-derived cannabinoids in medical marijuana and other cannabinoid-based therapeutics, the commonly encountered synthetic cannabinoids in these mendaciously labeled products constitute a structurally diverse set of compounds of relatively unknown pharmacology and toxicology. Indeed, the use of these substances has been associated with an alarming number of hospitalizations and emergency room visits. Moreover, there are already several hundred known cannabinoid agonist compounds that could potentially be used for illicit purposes, posing an additional challenge for public health professionals and law enforcement efforts, which often require the detection and identification of the active ingredients for effective treatment or prosecution. A solid-phase microextraction headspace gas chromatography-mass spectrometry method is shown here to allow for rapid and reliable detection and structural identification of many of the synthetic cannabinoid compounds that are currently or could potentially be used in herbal smoking mixtures. This approach provides accelerated analysis and results that distinguish between structural analogs within several classes of cannabinoid compounds, including positional isomers. The analytical results confirm the continued manufacture and distribution of herbal materials with synthetic cannabinoids and provide insight into the manipulation of these products to avoid legal constraints and prosecution.
    Journal of analytical toxicology 06/2012; 36(5):293-302. · 2.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To develop SAR at both the cannabinoid CB(1) and CB(2) receptors for 3-(1-naphthoyl)indoles bearing moderately electron withdrawing substituents at C-4 of the naphthoyl moiety, 1-propyl and 1-pentyl-3-(4-fluoro, chloro, bromo and iodo-1-naphthoyl) derivatives were prepared. To study the steric and electronic effects of substituents at the 8-position of the naphthoyl group, the 3-(4-chloro, bromo and iodo-1-naphthoyl)indoles were also synthesized. The affinities of both groups of compounds for the CB(1) and CB(2) receptors were determined and several of them were evaluated in vivo in the mouse. The effects of these substituents on receptor affinities and in vivo activity are discussed and structure-activity relationships are presented. Although many of these compounds are selective for the CB(2) receptor, only three JWH-423, 1-propyl-3-(4-iodo-1-naphthoyl)indole, JWH-422, 2-methyl-1-propyl-3-(4-iodo-1-naphthoyl)indole, the 2-methyl analog of JWH-423 and JWH-417, 1-pentyl-3-(8-iodo-1-naphthoyl)indole, possess the desirable combination of low CB(1) affinity and good CB(2) affinity.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 03/2012; 20(6):2067-81. · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Smoking of synthetic cannabinoid-enhanced "herbal incense" is an emerging substance abuse problem. The indole-derived cannabinoids identified in these products were originally developed as research tools and are structurally distinct from cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Although abused by humans, most published research on this class of compounds has been performed in vitro. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a novel series of 1-pentyl-3-phenylacetylindoles in mice. The potencies of these analogs to produce the cannabinoid agonist effects of antinociception, hypothermia and suppression of locomotion were evaluated in ICR mice. The major structural manipulations in the present series included the type of substituent (i.e., unsubstituted, methyl, methoxy, chloro, bromo, and fluoro) and the position of the substituent on the phenyl ring (i.e., 2-, 3- or 4-position). Potencies of this series of phenylacetylindoles for each cannabinoid effect were highly correlated with CB(1) receptor affinities reported previously. Active compounds produced a profile of effects that resembled that exhibited by Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The most critical factor affecting in vivo potency was the position of the substituent. Whereas compounds with 2- and 3-phenylacetyl substituents were efficacious with good potencies, 4-substituents resulted in compounds that had poor potency or were inactive. These results suggest that phenylacetylindoles with good CB(1) binding affinity share pharmacological properties with THC in mice; however, they also emphasize the complexity of molecular interactions of synthetic cannabinoids with CB(1) receptors and suggest that scheduling efforts based solely upon structural features should proceed with caution.
    Drug and alcohol dependence 11/2011; 123(1-3):148-53. · 3.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Gathering and communicating knowledge are important aspects of the scientific endeavor. Yet presentation of data in public forums such as scientific meetings and publications makes it available not only to scientists, but also to others who may have different ideas about how to use research findings. A recent example of this type of hijacking is the introduction of synthetic cannabinoids that are sprayed on herbal products and subsequently smoked for their marijuana-like intoxicating properties. Originally developed for the legitimate research purpose of furthering understanding of the cannabinoid system, these synthetic cannabinoids are being abused worldwide, creating issues for regulatory and law enforcement agencies that are struggling to keep up with the growing number of compounds of various structural motifs. Basic and clinical scientists need to provide advice now to facilitate decision-making about the health threats posed by this emerging problem.
    Methods report (RTI Press). 11/2011; 2011.
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    ABSTRACT: Rimonabant, the prototypic antagonist of cannabinoid CB(1) receptors, has been reported to have inverse agonist properties at higher concentrations, which may complicate its use as a tool for mechanistic evaluation of cannabinoid pharmacology. Consequently, recent synthesis efforts have concentrated on discovery of a neutral antagonist using a variety of structural templates. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the pharmacological properties of the putative neutral cannabinoid CB(1) receptor antagonist O-2050, a sulfonamide side chain analog of Δ(8)-tetrahydrocannabinol. O-2050 and related sulfonamide cannabinoids exhibited good affinity for both cannabinoid CB(1) and CB(2) receptors. While the other sulfonamide analogs produced cannabinoid agonist effects in vivo (e.g., activity suppression, antinociception, and hypothermia), O-2050 stimulated activity and was inactive in the other two tests. O-2050 also decreased food intake in mice, an effect that was reminiscent of that produced by rimonabant. Unlike rimonabant, however, O-2050 did not block the effects of cannabinoid agonists in vivo, even when administered i.c.v. In contrast, O-2050 antagonized the in vitro effects of cannabinoid agonists in [(35)S]GTPγS and mouse vas deferens assays without having activity on its own in either assay. Further evaluation revealed that O-2050 fully and dose-dependently substituted for Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol in a mouse drug discrimination procedure (a cannabinoid agonist effect) and that it inhibited forskolin-stimulated cyclic AMP signaling with a maximum efficacy of approximately half that of the full agonist CP55,940 [(-)-cis-3-[2-hydroxy-4(1,1-dimethyl-heptyl)phenyl]-trans-4-(3-hydroxy-propyl)cyclohexanol]. Together, these results suggest that O-2050 is not a viable candidate for classification as a neutral cannabinoid CB(1) receptor antagonist.
    European journal of pharmacology 01/2011; 651(1-3):96-105. · 2.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Δ(8)-Tetrahydrocannabinol (26), 3-(1',1'-dimethylbutyl)- (12), 3-(1',1'-dimethylpentyl)- (13), 3-(1',1'-dimethylhexyl)- (14) and 3-(1',1'-dimethylheptyl)-Δ(8)-tetrahydrocannabinol (15) have been converted into the corresponding 1-bromo-1-deoxy-Δ(8)-tetrahydrocannabinols (25, 8-11). This was accomplished using a protocol developed in our laboratory in which the trifluoromethanesulfonate of a phenol undergoes palladium mediated coupling with pinacolborane. Reaction of this dioxaborolane with aqueous-methanolic copper(II) bromide provides the aryl bromide. The affinities of these bromo cannabinoids for the cannabinoid CB(1) and CB(2) receptors were determined. All of these compounds showed selectivity for the CB(2) receptor and one of them, 1-bromo-1-deoxy-3-(1',1'-dimethylhexyl)-Δ(8)-tetrahydrocannabinol (10), exhibits 52-fold selectivity for this receptor with good (28nM) affinity.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 09/2010; 18(22):7809-15. · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: 'Spice' is an herbal blend primarily marketed in Europe as a mild hallucinogen with prominent cannabis-like effects and as a legal alternative to cannabis. However, a recent report identified a number of synthetic additives in samples of 'Spice'. One of these, the indole derivative JWH018, is a ligand for the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB(1)) cannabinoid receptor and inhibits cAMP production in CB(1) receptor-expressing CHO cells. Other effects of JWH018 on CB(1) receptor-mediated signalling are not known, particularly in neurons. Here we have evaluated the signalling pathways activated by JWH018 at CB(1) receptors. We investigated the effects of JWH018 on neurotransmission in cultured autaptic hippocampal neurons. We further analysed its activation of ERK1/2 mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) and internalization of CB(1) receptors in HEK293 cells stably expressing this receptor. In cultured autaptic hippocampal neurons, JWH018 potently inhibited excitatory postsynaptic currents (IC(50)= 14.9 nM) in a concentration- and CB(1) receptor-dependent manner. Furthermore, it increased ERK1/2 MAPK phosphorylation (EC(50)= 4.4 nM). We also found that JWH018 potently induced rapid and robust CB(1) receptor internalization (EC(50)= 2.8 nM; t(1/2)= 17.3 min). JWH018, a prominent component of several herbal preparations marketed for their psychoactivity, is a potent and effective CB(1) receptor agonist that activates multiple CB(1) receptor signalling pathways. Thus, it is likely that the subjective effects of 'Spice' are due to activation of cannabinoid CB(1) receptors by JWH018, added to this herbal preparation.
    British Journal of Pharmacology 06/2010; 160(3):585-93. · 5.07 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Three 1-methoxy analogs of CP-47,497 (7, 8, and 19) have been synthesized and their affinities for the cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors have been determined. Although these compounds exhibit selectivity for the CB2 receptor none have significant affinity for either receptor. Modeling and receptor docking studies were carried out, which provide a rationalization for the weak affinities of these compounds for either receptor.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 01/2010; 18(15):5475-5482. · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The four diastereomers of 1′,2′-dimethylheptyl-Δ8-THC (2) have been synthesized. Pharmacology both in vitro and in vivo indicated that all four isomers were very potent cannabinoids. The 1′R,2′S and 1′S,2′R are considerably more potent than the other two isomers, and are among the most potent traditional cannabinoids known.
    ChemInform 01/2010; 29(8).
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    Jianhong Chen, Valerie J Smith, John W Huffman
    Organic Preparations and Procedures International 01/2010; 42(5):490-493. · 1.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: ChemInform is a weekly Abstracting Service, delivering concise information at a glance that was extracted from about 100 leading journals. To access a ChemInform Abstract of an article which was published elsewhere, please select a “Full Text” option. The original article is trackable via the “References” option.
    ChemInform 01/2010; 28(20).
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    ABSTRACT: Primarily, rats have served as subjects in Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol's (THC) discrimination studies although other species such as monkeys and pigeons have been used. While the introduction of the knockout and transgenic mice has vastly stimulated the study of the discriminative stimulus effects of drugs there is only a single published report of mice trained to discriminate THC. Thus, this study extended those results by providing a systematic replication that THC serves as an effective discriminative stimulus in mice and by further investigating the mechanisms of action involved in the THC discrimination model in the mouse. Male C57BL/6J mice were trained to discriminate 10 mg/kg THC from vehicle in 2-lever drug discrimination. THC fully and dose dependently substituted for itself. Cannabinoid indoles, except one with low cannabinoid CB(1) receptor affinity, substituted for THC. Anandamide failed to substitute for THC when administered alone but completely substituted when administered with the non-specific fatty acid amide hydrolase inhibitor, phenylmethylsulphonyl fluoride. As expected, nicotine failed to substitute for THC. Lastly, the cannabinoid CB(1) receptor antagonist rimonabant blocked THC's discriminative stimulus effects. Taken together these studies demonstrate THC's ability to produce discriminative stimulus effects as well as demonstrate its pharmacological specificity and mechanism of action in a two-lever drug discrimination mouse model.
    European journal of pharmacology 09/2009; 615(1-3):102-7. · 2.59 Impact Factor
  • John W. Huffman
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    ABSTRACT: A number of years ago it was found that 1-aminoalkyl-3-aroylindoles have affinity for the canabinoid receptor that is expressed in the central nervous system (CB1 receptor). More than 100 of these aminoalkylindoles were prepared and structure–activity relationships (SARs) were developed for these compounds. Subsequently it was found that the aminoalkyl substituent could be replaced by a straight chain alkyl group of four to six carbon atoms without loss of affinity for the CB1 receptor. One of these indoles, 1-propyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole was found to have relatively high affinity for the cannabinoid receptor that is expressed in the periphery (CB2 receptor), but with little affinity for the CB1 receptor. In order to explore the SAR for these cannabimimetic 3-(1-naphthoyl)alkylindoles a number of compounds have been synthesized, some of which have very high affinity for the CB1 receptor and others which are highly selective for the CB2 receptor. On the basis of a suggested pharmacophore for the cannabimimetic indoles, a series of 1-alkyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)pyrroles was prepared, one of which had modest affinity for the CB1 receptor and was active in vivo. Subsequent work led to the development of a series of 1-alkyl-2-aryl-4-(1-naphthoyl)pyrroles, some of which have high affinity for the CB1 and/or CB2 receptor. Two groups have reported the synthesis of cannabimimetic indenes, which serve as rigid models for the CB1 receptor. Through a combination of molecular modeling and studies of mutant receptors a body of evidence has been acquired, which indicates that cannabimimetic indoles, and by extension pyrroles and indenes, interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors primarily by aromatic stacking. KeywordsCannabinoid-Aminoalkylindoles-CB1 receptor-CB2 receptor-Pyrrole-Indene-Indole
    12/2008: pages 49-94;
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    ABSTRACT: Little is known about the roles of beta-arrestins in the regulation of brain CB1 cannabinoid receptors. This study investigated the role of beta-arrestin2 in cannabinoid behavioral effects using beta-arrestin2 -/- mice and their wild-type counterparts. A variety of cannabinoid ligands from different chemical classes that exhibit a variety of efficacies for activation of CB1 receptors were investigated, including Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol, CP55940, methanandamide, JWH-073, and O-1812. Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol produced both greater antinociception and greater decreases in body temperature in beta-arrestin2 -/- compared with beta-arrestin2 +/+ mice. No significant differences were, however, present in either assay for the other CB1 agonists. Antagonist radioligand binding indicated no difference in the density of cannabinoid CB1 receptors in the cerebellum, cortex, or hippocampus of beta-arrestin2 +/+ and -/- mice. These data demonstrate that beta-arrestin2 may regulate cannabinoid CB1 receptor sensitivity in an agonist-specific manner.
    Behavioural Pharmacology 08/2008; 19(4):298-307. · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    John W Huffman, Valerie J Smith, Lea W Padgett
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    ABSTRACT: The Friedel-Crafts acylation of N-p-toluenesulfonylpyrrole under Friedel-Crafts conditions has been reinvestigated. Evidence is presented in support of the hypothesis that when AlCl(3) is used as the Lewis acid, acylation proceeds via reaction of an organoaluminum intermediate with the acyl halide. This leads to the production of the 3-acyl derivative as the major product. With weaker Lewis acids (EtAlCl(2), Et(2)AlCl) or less than one equivalent of AlCl(3) the relative amount of 2-acyl product is increased. A mechanistic rationalization is presented to explain these data.
    Tetrahedron 03/2008; 64(9):2104-2112. · 2.80 Impact Factor
  • Karla-Sue C Marriott, John W Huffman
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    ABSTRACT: Two subtypes of the mammalian cannabinoid receptor have been identified and successfully cloned since 1990. The CB(1) receptor is primarily located in the central nervous system and the CB(2) receptor is almost exclusively expressed in cells of the immune system. The CB(1) and CB(2) receptors are both G-protein coupled receptors and are involved in the inhibition of adenylate cyclase. The CB(2) receptor is of particular importance due to its involvement in signal transduction in the immune system, making it a potential target for therapeutic immune intervention. A number of these selective ligands are derivatives of traditional dibenzopyran based cannabinoids. These include the very recently synthesized (2'R)-1-methoxy-3-(2'-methylbutyl)- Delta (8)-THC (JWH-359) which has a 224 fold selectivity for the CB(2) receptor, readily comparable to the well known 1-deoxy-3-(1',1'-dimethylbutyl)- Delta (8)-THC (JWH-133) which has 200 fold selectivity for the CB(2) receptor. Several 9-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinols have also been synthesized and are found to be selective high affinity ligands for the CB(2) receptor. These are 1-deoxy-9beta-hydroxy-dimethylhexylhexahydrocannabinol (JWH-361, K(i) = 2.7 nM) and 1-deoxy-9beta-hydroxy-dimethylpentylhexahydrocannabinol (JWH-300, K(i) = 5.3 nM). CB(2) selective cannabi-mimetic indoles include 1-(2,3-dichlorobenzoyl)-2-methyl-3-(2-[1-morpholine]ethyl)-5-methoxyindole (L768242), (R)-3-(2-Iodo-5-nitrobenzoyl)-1-(1-methyl-2-piperidinylmethyl)-1H-indole (AM1241) and 1-propyl-2-methyl-3-(1-naphthoyl) indole (JWH-015), which exhibit significant selectivity for the CB(2) receptor coupled with weak affinity for the CB(1) receptor. Bristol-Meyer Squibb has produced a phenylalanine derived cannabimimetic indole which possesses high CB(2) affinity (K(i) = 8 nM) and very low affinity for the CB(1) receptor (K(i) = 4000 nM). This review will discuss the current advances and recent results in the structure-activity relationships (SAR) of selective ligands for the cannabinoid CB(2) receptor.
    Current topics in medicinal chemistry 02/2008; 8(3):187-204. · 4.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Vascular smooth muscle proliferation and migration triggered by inflammatory stimuli are involved in the development and progression of atherosclerosis and restenosis. Cannabinoids may modulate cell proliferation in various cell types through cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptors. Here, we investigated the effects of CB2 receptor agonists on TNF-alpha-induced proliferation, migration and signal transduction in human coronary artery smooth muscle cells (HCASMCs). HCASMCs were stimulated with TNF-alpha. Smooth muscle proliferation was determined by the extent of BrdU incorporation and the migration was assayed by modified Boyden chamber. CB2 and/or CB1 receptor expressions were determined by immunofluorescence staining, western blotting, RT-PCR, real-time PCR and flow cytometry. Low levels of CB2 and CB1 receptors were detectable in HCASMCs compared to the high levels of CB2 receptors expressed in THP-1 monocytes. TNF-alpha triggered up to approximately 80% increase (depending on the method used) in CB2 receptor mRNA and/or protein expression in HCASMCs, and induced Ras, p38 MAPK, ERK 1/2, SAPK/JNK and Akt activation, while increasing proliferation and migration. The CB2 agonists, JWH-133 and HU-308, dose-dependently attenuated these effects of TNF-alpha. Since the above-mentioned TNF-alpha-induced phenotypic changes are critical in the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis and restenosis, our findings suggest that CB2 agonists may offer a novel approach in the treatment of these pathologies by decreasing vascular smooth muscle proliferation and migration.
    British Journal of Pharmacology 02/2008; 153(2):347-57. · 5.07 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A series of 1-deoxy analogs of CP-47,497 (8 and 13, n=0-7) and 1-deoxy analogs of CP-55,940 (9, n=0-7) have been synthesized and their affinities for the cannabinoid CB(1) and CB(2) receptors have been determined. Although the majority of these compounds exhibit selectivity for the CB(2) receptor, none have greater than modest affinity for either receptor. The interactions of these 1-deoxy nontraditional cannabinoids with the CB(2) receptor are discussed.
    Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 02/2008; 16(1):322-35. · 2.82 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
195.31 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2012–2013
    • RTI International
      Durham, North Carolina, United States
  • 1980–2013
    • Clemson University
      • Department of Chemistry
      Anderson, Indiana, United States
  • 1994–2012
    • Virginia Commonwealth University
      • Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
      Richmond, VA, United States
  • 2008
    • Savannah State University
      Savannah, Georgia, United States