These heterocycles are sometimes referred to as the "bioisosteric equivalent" of the simpler esters from which they are derived. A potential disadvantage of leaving the ββ-ester unreacted is that in addition to being hydrolyzable, it can also epimerize to the energetically more favorable trans configuration. This can happen to cocaine also.
Irreversible (phenylisothiocyanate) binding ligand (Murthy, V.; Martin, T. J.; Kim, S.; Davies, H. M. L.; Childers, S. R. (2008). "In Vivo Characterization of a Novel Phenylisothiocyanate Tropane Analog at Monoamine Transporters in Rat Brain". Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics326 (2): 587–595. doi:10.1124/jpet.108.138842. PMID18492949.)RTI-76:4-isothiocyanatophenyl (1R,2S,3S,5S)-3-(4-chlorophenyl)-8-methyl-8-azabicyclo[3.2.1]octane-2-carboxylate. Also known as: 3beta-(p-chlorophenyl)tropan-2beta-carboxylic acid p-isothiocyanatophenylmethyl ester.
Note the contrast to the phenylisothiocyanate covalent binding site location as compared to the one on p-Isococ, a non-phenyltropane cocaine analogue.
It is well established that electrostatic potential around the para position tends to improve MAT binding. This is believed to also be the case for the meta position, although it is less studied. N-demethylation dramatically potentiates NET and SERT affinity, but the effects of this on DAT binding are insignificant. Of course, this is not always the case. For an interesting exception to this trend, see the Taxil document. There is ample evidence suggesting that N-demethylation of alkaloids occurs naturally in vivo via a biological enzyme. The fact that hydrolysis of the ester leads to inactive metabolites means that this is still the main mode of deactivation for analogues that have an easily metabolised 2-ester substituent. The attached table provides good illustration of the effect of this chemical transformation on MAT binding affinities. N.B. In the case of both nocaine and pethidine, N-demethyl compounds are more toxic and have a decreased seizure threshold.
"Interest in NET selective drugs continues as evidenced by the development of atomoxetine, manifaxine, and reboxetine as new NET selective compounds for treating ADHD and other CNS disorders such as depression" (FIC, et al. 2005).
Phenyltropanes can be grouped by "N substitution" "Stereochemistry" "2-substitution" & by the nature of the 3-phenyl group substituent X.
Often this has dramatic effects on selectivity, potency, and duration, also toxicity, since phenyltropanes are highly versatile. For more examples of interesting phenyltropanes, see some of the more recent patents, e.g. U.S. Patent 6,329,520, U.S. Patent 7,011,813, U.S. Patent 6,531,483, and U.S. Patent 7,291,737.
Potency in vitro should not be confused with the actual dosage, as pharmacokinetic factors can have a dramatic influence on what proportion of an administered dose actually gets to the target binding sites in the brain, and so a drug that is very potent at binding to the target may nevertheless have only moderate potency in vivo. For example, RTI-336 requires a higher dosage than cocaine. Accordingly, the active dosage of RTI-386 is exceedingly poor despite the relatively high ex vivo DAT binding affinity.
Many molecular drug structures have exceedingly similar pharmarcology to phenyltropanes, yet by certain technicalities do not fit the phenyltropane moniker. These are namely classes of dopaminergic cocaine analogues that are in the piperidine class (a category that includes methylphenidate) or benztropine class (such as Difluoropine: which is extremely close to fitting the criteria of being a phenyltropane.) Whereas other potent DRIs are far removed from being in the phenyltropane structural family, such as Benocyclidine or Vanoxerine.
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