• allosteric modulator;
  • cannabinoid receptor;
  • antagonist

Background and purpose:

Rimonabant (AcompliaTM, SR141716A), a cannabinoid CB1 receptor inverse agonist, has recently been approved for the treatment of obesity. There are, however, concerns regarding its side effect profile. Developing a CB1 antagonist with a different pharmacological mechanism may lead to a safer alternative. To this end we have screened a proprietary small molecule library and have discovered a novel class of allosteric antagonist at CB1 receptors. Herein, we have characterized an optimized prototypical molecule, PSNCBAM-1, and its hypophagic effects in vivo.

Experimental approach:

A CB1 yeast reporter assay was used as a primary screen. PSNCBAM-1 was additionally characterized in [35S]-GTPγS, cAMP and radioligand binding assays. An acute rat feeding model was used to evaluate its effects on food intake and body weight in vivo.

Key results:

In CB1 receptor yeast reporter assays, PSNCBAM-1 blocked the effects induced by agonists such as CP55,940, WIN55212-2, anandamide (AEA) or 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG). The antagonist characteristics of PSNCBAM-1 were confirmed in [35S]-GTPγS binding and cAMP assays and was shown to be non-competitive by Schild analyses. PSNCBAM-1 did not affect CB2 receptors. In radioligand binding assays, PSNCBAM-1 increased the binding of [3H]CP55,940 despite its antagonist effects. In an acute rat feeding model, PSNCBAM-1 decreased food intake and body weight.

Conclusions and implications:

PSNCBAM-1 exerted its effects through selective allosteric modulation of the CB1 receptor. The acute effects on food intake and body weight induced in rats provide a first report of in vivo activity for an allosteric CB1 receptor antagonist.

British Journal of Pharmacology (2007) 152, 805–814; doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0707347; published online 25 June 2007