Synthesis and in vitro evaluation of tetrahydroisoquinolinyl benzamides as ligands for σ receptors

Rong Xu, John R. Lever, Susan Z. Lever

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


5-Bromo-N-[4-(6,7-dimethoxy-3,4-dihydro-1H-isoquinolin-2-yl)-butyl)]-2,3-dimethoxy-benzamide (1) is one of the most potent and selective σ2 receptor ligands reported to date. Previous structure-activity relationship studies of such tetrahydroisoquinolinyl benzamides have focused on the linker that connects the ring systems and the effects of benzamide ring substituents. The present study explores the effects of fusing methylene-, ethylene-, and propylenedioxy rings onto the tetrahydroisoquinoline in place of the two methoxy groups. These modifications decreased σ2 affinity by 8- to 12-fold, with no major differences noted with ring size. By contrast, the methylenedioxy analog showed a 10-fold greater σ1 affinity than 1, and progressively lower σ1 affinities were then noted with increasing ring size. We also opened the tetrahydroisoquinoline ring of 1 to study the effects of greater conformational fluidity on σ receptor binding. The σ2 affinity of the open-ring compound decreased by 1700-fold, while σ1 affinity was not changed. Thus, a constrained tetrahydroisoquinoline ring system is key to the exceptional σ2 receptor binding affinity and selectivity of this active series.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2594-2597
Number of pages4
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Tetrahydroisoquinoline
  • σ Receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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