Phenylalanine Stereoisomers of CJ-15,208 and [d-Trp]CJ-15,208 Exhibit Distinctly Different Opioid Activity Profiles

Ariana C. Brice-Tutt, Sanjeewa N. Senadheera, Michelle L. Ganno, Shainnel O. Eans, Tanvir Khaliq, Thomas F. Murray, Jay P. McLaughlin, Jane V. Aldrich

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8 Scopus citations


The macrocyclic tetrapeptide cyclo[Phe-d-Pro-Phe-Trp] (CJ-15,208) and its stereoisomer cyclo[Phe-d-Pro-Phe-d-Trp] exhibit different opioid activity profiles in vivo. The present study evaluated the influence of the Phe residues’ stereochemistry on the peptides’ opioid activity. Five stereoisomers were synthesized by a combination of solid-phase peptide synthesis and cyclization in solution. The analogs were evaluated in vitro for opioid receptor affinity in radioligand competition binding assays, and for opioid activity and selectivity in vivo in the mouse 55 C warm-water tail-withdrawal assay. Potential liabilities of locomotor impairment, respiratory depression, acute tolerance development, and place conditioning were also assessed in vivo. All of the stereoisomers exhibited antinociception following either intracerebroventricular or oral administration differentially mediated by multiple opioid receptors, with kappa opioid receptor (KOR) activity contributing for all of the peptides. However, unlike the parent peptides, KOR antagonism was exhibited by only one stereoisomer, while another isomer produced DOR antagonism. The stereoisomers of CJ-15,208 lacked significant respiratory effects, while the [d-Trp]CJ-15,208 stereoisomers did not elicit antinociceptive tolerance. Two isomers, cyclo[d-Phe-d-Pro-d-Phe-Trp] (3) and cyclo[Phe-d-Pro-d-Phe-d-Trp] (5), did not elicit either preference or aversion in a conditioned place preference assay. Collectively, these stereoisomers represent new lead compounds for further investigation in the development of safer opioid analgesics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3999
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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