Affiliation: Department of Biomolecular Chemistry, Medical University of Lodz, Mazowiecka 6/8, 92-215 Lodz, Poland.
In our previous paper we have reported the synthesis and biological activity of a cyclic analog, Tyr-c(D-Lys- Phe-Phe-Asp)-NH2, based on endomorphin-2 (EM-2) structure. This analog displayed high affinity for the µ -opioid receptor, was much more stable than EM-2 in rat brain homogenate and showed remarkable antinociceptive activity after intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) injection. Even more importantly, the cyclic analog elicited weak analgesia also after peripheral administration, giving evidence that it was able to cross, at least to some extent, the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Here we describe further modifications of this analog aimed at enhancing brain delivery by increasing lipophilicity. Two new cyclic pentapeptides, Tyr-c(D-Lys-D-1-Nal-Phe-Asp)-NH2 and Tyr-c(D-Lys-D-2-Nal-Phe-Asp)-NH2 (where 1-Nal=1- naphthyl-3-alanine, 2-Nal=2-naphthyl-3-alanine) were synthesized and evaluated in biological assays. Both analogs showed high µ -opioid receptor affinity and agonist activity and were stable in the rat brain homogenates. Unfortunately, the increase of lipophilicity was achieved at the expense of water solubility. The analog with D-2-Nal residue showed strong analgesic effect when given i.c.v. but could not be tested after intravenous (i.v.) administration where higher concentrations of the compound are required. However, this analog showed inhibitory effect on gastrointestinal (GI) motility in vivo, providing an interesting approach to the development of peripherally restricted agents that could be useful for studying gastrointestinal disorders in animal models.