Chemistry, Binding Affinities, and Behavioral Properties of a New Class of “Antineophobic” Mitochondrial DBI Receptor Complex (mDRC) Ligands

A. P. Kozikowski, D. Ma, James Brewer, S. Sun, E. Costa, E. Romeo, A. Guidotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


The mitochondrial DBI receptor complex (mDRC; previously called the peripheral benzodiazepine receptors) is linked to the production of neurosteroids such as pregnenolone sulfate, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, and others. In order to gain further information as to the function of the mDRC in the brain, we have constructed and tested both in vitro and in vivo a novel series of ligands, 2-arylindole-3-acetamides. The SAR studies detailed herein delineate some of the structural features required for high affinity binding to the mDRCs. In most cases the new ligands were prepared by use of the Fischer indole synthesis. Variations in the length and number of the alkyl groups on the amide nitrogen were probed together with the effects of halogen substituents on one or both of the aryl rings. Some ligands were also synthesized for study which represent conformationally constrained versions of the parent structure. Broad screening studies revealed these indoleacetamides to be highly selective for the mDRC, since they failed to bind with any significant affinity to other receptor systems. Some of the ligands were found to exhibit Ki values in the low nanomolar range for the mDRC as measured by the displacement of [3H]4′-chlorodiazepam. A subset of these ligands was also shown to stimulate pregnenolone formation from the mitochondria of C6-2B glioma cells with an EC50 of about 3 nM. In animal experiments ligands selected for further study were found to exhibit antineophobic effects, in spite of the fact that they exhibit no direct action on GABAA receptors. Consequently, it is postulated that these ligands owe their action to an indirect modulation of GABAA receptor function, presumably by stimulation of neurosteroid production and release from glial cells, followed by neurosteroid modulation of GABA's action on the chloride ion channel conductance of GABAA receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2908-2920
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of medicinal chemistry
Issue number20
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery


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