Dipeptidyl carboxypeptidase-I is an enzyme involved in the biological degradation of enkephalins. It has been suggested that C-terminal amidation of enkephalins enhances their resistance to dipeptidyl carboxypeptidase-I-mediated biodegradation. In this study, a novel [Met5]enkephalin amide (MEA) analogue [Met5]enkephalin (ME)-semicarbazide synthesized by another laboratory in our group was assessed for its antinociceptive effects compared with ME-ethylamide, MEA and ME, using tail flick test. To protect the administered drugs from biodegradation, rats were pretreated with peptidase inhibitors including amastatin, phosphoramidon and captopril. Then captopril (dipeptidyl carboxypeptidase-I inhibitor) was deleted from the peptidase inhibitors' combination for evaluating in vivo resistance of the synthetic drugs to dipeptidyl carboxypeptidase-I.
According to the results, ME-semicarbazide and MEA were resistant enough to dipeptidyl carboxypeptidase-I to exert their strong antinociception following intrathecal administration even in the absence of captopril, whereas the antinociceptive effects produced by ME-ethylamide (10 nmol) were abolished in rats not pretreated with captopril, indicating that significant amounts of the ME-ethylamide were degraded by dipeptidyl carboxypeptidase-I. Replacement of the amide moiety of MEA with semicarbazide provides a new ME derivative, with high analgesic effects as well as more resistance to dipeptidyl carboxypeptidase-I-mediated biodegradation. Copyright © 2011 European Peptide Society and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.