Further evaluation of the potential anxiolytic activity of imidazo[1,5-a][1,4]diazepin agents selective for α2/3-containing GABAA receptors


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Abstract

Positive allosteric modulators of GABAA receptors transduce a host of beneficial effects including anxiolytic actions. We have recently shown that bioavailability and anxiolytic-like activity can be improved by eliminating the ester functionality in imidazo[1,5-a][1,4]diazepines. In the present series of experiments, we further substantiate the value of heterocyle replacement of the ester for potential treatment of anxiety. None of three esters was active in a Vogel conflict test in rats that detects anxiolytic drugs like diazepam. Compounds 7 and 8, ester bioisosters, were selective for alpha 2 and 3 over alpha 1-containing GABAA receptors but also had modest efficacy at GABAA alpha 5-containing receptors. Compound 7 was efficacious and potent in this anxiolytic-detecting assay without affecting non-punished responding. The efficacies of the esters and of compound 7 were predicted from their efficacies as anticonvulsants against the GABAA antagonist pentylenetetrazole (PTZ). In contrast, the related structural analog, compound 8, did not produce anxiolytic-like effects in rats despite anticonvulsant efficacy. These data thus support the following conclusions: 1) ancillary pharmacological actions of compound 8 might be responsible for its lack of anxiolytic-like efficacy despite its efficacy as an anticonvulsant 2) esters of imidazo[1,5-a][1,4]diazepines do not demonstrate anxiolytic-like effects in rats due to their low bioavailability and 3) replacement of the ester function with suitable heterocycles markedly improves bioavailability and engenders molecules with the opportunity to have potent and efficacious effects in vivo that correspond to human anxiolytic actions.HighlightsNovel imidazo[1,5-a][1,4]diazepines were explored as potential anxiolytic drugs.Three esters were not active in a Vogel conflict test in rats that detects anxiolytic drugs like diazepam.Two new bioisosters were selective for alpha 2 and 3 over alpha 1-containing GABAA receptors.Compound 7 was efficacious and potent in the Vogel conflict test.

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