Journal article Open Access

Synthesis and in vitro characterization of novel fluorinated derivatives of the translocator protein 18 kDa ligand CfO-DPA-714.

Cacheux, Fanny; Médran-Navarrete, Vincent; Dollé, Frédéric; Marguet, Frank; Puech, Frédéric; Damont, Annelaure

The translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO) is today a validated target for a number of therapeutic applications, but also a well-recognized diagnostic/imaging biomarker for the evaluation of inflammatory related-disease state and progression, prompting the development of specific and dedicated TSPO ligands worldwide. For this purpose, pyrazolo[1,5-a]pyrimidine acetamides constitute a unique class of high affinity and selectivity TSPO ligands; it includes DPA-714, a fluorine-containing derivative that has also been labelled with the positron-emitter fluorine-18, and is nowadays widely used as a Positron Emission Tomography imaging probe. Recently, to prevent defluorination issues encountered in vivo with this tracer, a first series of analogues was reported where the oxygen atom bridging the phenyl ring of the core structure and the fluorinated moiety was replaced with a more robust linkage. Among this new series, CfO-DPA-714 was discovered as a highly promising TSPO ligand. Herein, a novel series of fluorinated analogues of the latter molecule were synthesized and in vitro characterized, where the pharmacomodulation at the amide position of the molecule was explored. Thirteen compounds were thus prepared from a common key-ester intermediate (synthesized in 7 steps from 4-iodobenzoate - 11% overall yield) and a set of commercially available amines and obtained with moderate to good yields (23-81%) and high purities (>95%). With one exception, all derivatives displayed nanomolar to subnanomolar affinity for the TSPO and also high selectivity versus the CBR (Ki (CBR)/Ki (TSPO) > 103). Within this series, three compounds showed better Ki values (0.25, 0.26 and 0.30 nM) than that of DPA-714 (0.91 nM) and CfO-DPA-714 (0.37 nM), and favorable lipophilicity for brain penetration (3.6 < logD7.4 < 4.4). Among these three compounds, the N-methyl-N-propyl amide analogue (9) exhibited similar metabolic stability when compared to CfO-DPA-714 in mouse, rat and human microsomes. Therefore, the latter compound stands out as a promising candidate for drug development or for use as a PET probe, once fluorine-18-labelled, for in vivo neuroinflammation imaging.

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