A high efficacy cannabinergic ligand (AM4054) used as a discriminative stimulus: Generalization to other adamantyl analogs and Δ9-THC in rats

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In addition to endogenous lipids, the two main cloned receptors (CB1R and CB2R) of the endocannabinoid signaling system (ECS) can be activated (and blocked) by various exogenous ligands. A relatively novel template for CB1R activators contains an adamantyl moiety as a key structural subunit, the first being the cannabinergic AM411. Additional chemical optimization efforts using the classical tricyclic scaffold led to AM4054. Here we explored the in vivo consequences of novel adamantyl analogs in rats trained to recognize the effects of the potent adamantyl cannabinergic AM4054. Rats were trained to discriminate between AM4054 (0.1 mg/kg) and vehicle. Three AM4054 analogs and Δ9-THC were tested for generalization (substitution) and antagonism was assessed with rimonabant. We found that all cannabinergics resulted in response generalization to the target stimulus AM4054. The order of potency was: AM4054 ≥ AM4083 ≥ AM4050 > AM4089 > Δ9-THC. The CB1R antagonist/inverse agonist rimonabant blocked the discriminative stimulus effects of AM4054. Thus the examined structural modifications affected binding affinities but did not markedly change potencies with the exception of AM4089. In vitro (cAMP assay) functional data have suggested that AM4089 behaves as a partial rather than as a full agonist at CB1R which could explain its lower potency compared to AM4054 (Thakur et al., 2013). The 9β-formyl functionality at C-9 position was identified as an important pharmacophore yielding high in vivo potency. Antagonism by rimonabant suggested CB1R mediation.

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