Design, synthesis, ADME properties, and pharmacological activities of β-alanyl-D-histidine (D-carnosine) prodrugs with improved bioavailability.

PMID 21634010


β-Alanyl-D-histidine (D-CAR, the enantiomer of the natural dipeptide carnosine) is a selective and potent sequestering agent of reactive carbonyl species (RCS) that is stable against carnosinase, but is poorly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. Herein we report a drug discovery approach aimed at increasing the oral bioavailability of D-CAR. In our study we designed, synthesized, and evaluated a series of novel lipophilic D-CAR prodrugs. The considered prodrugs can be divided into two categories: 1) derivatives with both terminal groups modified, in which the carboxyl terminus is always esterified while the amino terminus is protected by an amidic (N-acetyl derivatives) or a carbamate (ethyloxy or benzyloxy derivatives) function; 2) derivatives with only one terminus modified, which can be alkyl esters as well as amidic or carbamate derivatives. The prodrugs were designed considering their expected lipophilicity and their hydrolysis predicted by docking simulations on the most important human carboxylesterase (hCES1). The stability and metabolic profile of the prodrugs were studied by incubating them with rat and human serum and liver fractions. The octyl ester of D-CAR (compound 13) was chosen as a candidate for further pharmacological studies due to its rapid hydrolysis to the bioactive metabolite in vitro. Pharmacokinetic studies in rats confirmed the in vitro data and demonstrated that the oral bioavailability of D-CAR is increased 2.6-fold if given as an octyl ester relative to D-CAR. Compound 13 was then found to dose-dependently (at daily doses of 3 and 30 mg kg(-1) equivalent of D-CAR) decrease the development of hypertension and dyslipidemia, to restore renal functions of Zucker fa/fa obese rats, and to inhibit the carbonylation process (AGEs and pentosidine) as well as oxidative stress (urinary 8-epi-prostaglandin F2α and nitrotyrosine). A plausible mechanism underlying the protective effects of 13 is RCS sequestration, as evidenced by the significant increase in the level of adduct between CAR and 4-hydroxy-trans-2-nonenal (HNE, the main RCS generated by lipid oxidation) in the urine of treated animals.

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D-Histidine, ≥98% (TLC)