Discovery and Structure–Activity Relationship Studies of Novel Adenosine A1 Receptor-Selective Agonists

Barbara Preti, Anna Suchankova, Giuseppe Deganutti, Michele Leuenberger, Kerry Barkan, Iga Manulak, Xianglin Huang, Sabrina Carvalho, Graham Ladds, Martin Lochner

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A series of benzyloxy and phenoxy derivatives of the adenosine receptor agonists N6-cyclopentyl adenosine (CPA) and N6-cyclopentyl 5′-N-ethylcarboxamidoadenosine (CP-NECA) were synthesized, and their potency and selectivity were assessed. We observed that the most potent were the compounds with a halogen in the meta position on the aromatic ring of the benzyloxy- or phenoxycyclopentyl substituent. In general, the NECA-based compounds displayed greater A1R selectivity than the adenosine-based compounds, with N6-2-(3-bromobenzyloxy)cyclopentyl-NECA and N6-2-(3-methoxyphenoxy)cyclopentyl-NECA showing ∼1500-fold improved A1R selectivity compared to NECA. In addition, we quantified the compounds’ affinity and kinetics of binding at both human and rat A1R using a NanoBRET binding assay and found that the halogen substituent in the benzyloxy- or phenoxycyclopentyl moiety seems to confer high affinity for the A1R. Molecular modeling studies suggested a hydrophobic subpocket as contributing to the A1R selectivity displayed. We believe that the identified selective potent A1R agonists are valuable tool compounds for adenosine receptor research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14864-14890
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number21
Early online date21 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2022

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© 2022 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (,
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This study was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (B.P., M.Le. and M.Lo.), the Cambridge Trust (A.S.), the Leverhulme Trust (K.B. and G.L.), an AstraZeneca studentship (S.C.), a British Pharmacological Society Vacation Studentship (I.M.), a China Scholarship Council Cambridge International Scholarship (X.H.), and the BBSRC (G.L.). We thank Matt Ladds for his help with proof checking the statistical analysis and the Analytical Services from the Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Bern, Switzerland, for measuring NMR and MS spectra of synthetic intermediates and final compounds


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