A multiple-step screening protocol to identify norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors for depression†
Depression severely impairs the health of people all over the world. Cognitive dysfunction due to depression has resulted in a severe economic burden to family and society induced by the reduction of social functioning of patients. Norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs) targeted with the human norepinephrine transporter (hNET) and distributed with the human dopamine transporter (hDAT) simultaneously treat depression and improve cognitive function, and they effectively prevent sexual dysfunction and other side effects. Because many patients continue to poorly respond to NDRIs, it is urgent to discover novel NDRI antidepressants that do not interfere with cognitive function. The aim of this work was to selectively identify novel NDRI candidates acting against hNET and hDAT from large compound libraries by a comprehensive strategy integrating support vector machine (SVM) models, ADMET, molecular docking, in vitro binding assays, molecular dynamics simulation, and binding energy calculation. First, 6522 compounds that do not inhibit the human serotonin transporter (hSERT) were obtained by SVM models of hNET, hDAT, and non-target hSERT with similarity analyses from compound libraries. ADMET and molecular docking were then used to identify compounds that could potently bind to the hNET and hDAT with satisfactory ADMET, and 4 compounds were successfully identified. According to their docking scores and ADMET information, 3719810 was advanced for profiling by in vitro assays as a novel NDRI lead compound due to its strongest druggability and balancing activities. Encouragingly, 3719810 performed comparative activities on two targets, with Ki values of 7.32 μM for hNET and 5.23 μM for hDAT. To obtain candidates with additional activities and balance the activities of 2 targets, 5 analogs were optimized, and 2 novel scaffold compounds were successively designed. By assessment of molecular docking, molecular dynamics simulations, and binding energy calculations, 5 compounds were validated as NDRI candidates with high activities, and 4 of them performed acceptable balancing activities acting on hNET and hDAT. This work supplied promising novel NDRIs for treatment of depression with cognitive dysfunction or other related neurodegenerative disorders, and also provided a strategy for highly efficient and cost-effective identification of inhibitors for dual targets with homologous non-targets.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2023 PCCP HOT Articles