SAR studies of piperidine-based analogues of cocaine. 4. Effect of N-modification and ester replacement

Pavel A. Petukhov, Jianrong Zhang, Alan P. Kozikowski, Cheng Z. Wang, Yan Ping Ye, Kenneth M. Johnson, Srihari R. Tella

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17 Scopus citations


A series of novel N- and 3α-modified piperidine-based analogues of cocaine were synthesized and tested for their ability to inhibit reuptake of DA, 5-HT, and NE by the DA, 5-HT, and NE transporters. N-Demethylation of trans-(+)-3α-piperidine-based ligands leads to improved activity at the SERT and NET and modest changes at the DAT. Replacement of the N-methyl group in trans-(+)-ester 1a with phenylalkyl groups leads to a modest 2.3-fold improvement in activity at the SERT (Ki ≤ 3.27 μM), insignificant changes at the NET, and a 3.5-fold loss in activity at the DAT (Ki ≥ 810 nM); however, such replacement in cis-(-)-ester 4, the more potent isomer of 1a, leads, in general, to a significant decrease in activity at all monoamine transporters (Ki > 1 μM). Other N-modified ligands, including the ligands with polar groups incorporated in the N-alkyl substituent (3e-g) and ligands lacking the basic nitrogen (3i and 6d), show decreased activity at all monoamine transporters, though ligands 3e-g are similar in potency at the NET to 1a. N-Norester 2a, a possible metabolite of the lead compound 1a, and alcohol 1c, a compound with a 3α-substituent that is more stable to metabolism than 1a, were selected for further behavioral tests in animals. Alcohol 1c and ester 2a are similar in potency at the DAT to cocaine, ester 1a, and oxadiazole 1b, and both fully substitute for cocaine and have potency similar to that of cocaine in drug discrimination tests. Like cocaine, 1c increased locomotor activity (LMA) monotonically with time, whereas 2a produces biphasic effects consisting of initial locomotor depression followed by delayed locomotor stimulation. An interesting difference between cocaine, ester 1a, alcohol 1c, and N-norester 2a is that 1c and 2a are significantly longer acting in LMA tests. Although this result was anticipated for alcohol 1c, it is rather surprising for 2a which has an ester function susceptible to hydrolysis, a pathway of in vivo deactivation of cocaine and its ester analogues. The present results may have important implications for our understanding of the pharmacological mechanisms underlying the behavioral actions of cocaine and of the structural features needed for the design of the new leads in the discovery of a cocaine abuse medication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3161-3170
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of medicinal chemistry
Issue number15
StatePublished - Jul 18 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery


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