The neutral, noncyclic Li(+)-selective ionophore ETH1810, which is a di-imide, differs structurally from previous similar ionophores by removal of the intramolecular symmetry of the N-imide substituents. Properties of this ionophore, as a potential carrier of lithium, were probed through studies of ionophore-induced changes in electrical properties of lipid bilayer membranes. ETH1810 was found capable of transporting lithium and other monovalent cations, across lipid bilayer membranes, forming 2:1 ionophore:ion membrane-permeating species. It was found to be 10-fold more potent than ETH1644, which was the previous best ionophore of this type. The selectivity sequence among alkali cations was found to be: Li+ (1) greater than Na+ (0.009) greater than K+ (0.004) greater than Cs+ (0.0035). Among the physiological alkali cations, it constitutes a 40 (vs. Na+) to 160% (vs. K+) improvement over ETH1644. ETH1810 was also found to be capable of acting as a carrier of biogenic amines and related molecules, with the following selectivity sequence:tryptamine (20) greater than phenylethylamine (7.8) greater than tyramine (4.3) greater than serotonin (2.5) greater than Li+ (1) greater than NH+4 (0.013) greater than dopamine (0.012). It was found that protons, at physiological concentrations, do not interfere with the lithium transport mediated by ETH1810. The relationship between the improvements in ionic selectivity and potency vs. the differences in structural features is discussed.
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