Molecular pharmacology

Molecular determinants of mexiletine structure for potent and use-dependent block of skeletal muscle sodium channels.

PMID 10648636


On the basis of the information about drug receptor on voltage-gated sodium channels, mexiletine (Mex) analogs with substitutions at either the asymmetric carbon atom or the aromatic ring were synthesized as pure enantiomers. The compounds were tested in vitro for their ability to produce voltage- and use-dependent block of sodium currents (I(Na)) of frog muscle fibers by the vaseline-gap voltage-clamp method. In all experimental conditions, the drug potency was highly correlated with the lipophilicity of the group on the asymmetric center, the derivative with a benzyl moiety (Me6) having IC(50) values more than 10 times lower than those of Mex, followed by the phenyl (Me4) and the isopropyl (Me5) derivative. All of the compounds showed a further reduction of IC(50) values at depolarized membrane potentials and at high frequency of stimulation (10 Hz). Mex and Me5, but not Me4, produced a stereoselective tonic block of I(Na), the R-(-) isomers being 2-fold more potent than the S-(+) ones. The removal of both methyl groups from the aromatic ring of Mex (Me3) caused a 7-fold reduction of the potency, whereas similar substitutions on the phenyl derivative Me4 (Me7 and Me8) produced opposite effects. In fact, the IC(50) of R-(-) Me7 for use-dependent block of I(Na) was 30 times lower than that of R-(-) Mex. Me8 and Me7 were stereoselective during both tonic and use-dependent blockade. All of the compounds left-shifted the steady-state inactivation curves in relation to their potency and to the duration of the inactivating prepulse. Finally, the presence of apolar groups on the asymmetric center of mexiletine is pivotal to reinforce hydrophobic interactions with the proposed aromatic residues at the receptor, and lead to potent and therapeutically interesting inactivated channel blockers.

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R(−)-Me5 hydriodide, solid
C13H21NO · HI