Indole compounds with N-ethyl morpholine moieties as CB2 receptor agonists for anti-inflammatory management of pain: synthesis and biological evaluation†
The CB2 receptor plays a crucial role in analgesia and anti-inflammation. To develop novel CB2 agonists with high efficacy and selectivity, a series of indole derivatives with N-ethyl morpholine moieties (compounds 1–56) were designed, synthesized and biologically evaluated. Compounds 1, 2, 3, 46 and 53 exhibited high CB2 receptor affinity at low nanomolar concentrations and good receptor selectivity (EC50(CB1)/EC50(CB2) greater than 1000). The most active compound, compound 2, was more potent than the standard drug GW405833 for in vitro agonistic action on the CB2 receptor. More importantly, in a rat model for CFA-induced inflammatory hyperalgesia, compound 2 had a potent anti-inflammatory pain effect within 12 hours after administration. At the 1 h time point, compound 2 had a dose-dependent reversal for hyperalgesia with an estimated ED50 value of 1.097 mg kg−1. Moreover, compound 2 significantly suppressed the pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α) in CFA-induced lesions. These protective effects of compound 2 on inflammatory pain were superior to those of GW405833, suggesting that compound 2 may be a promising therapeutic drug that needs further validation.