Structure-activity relationships for inhibition of human cholinesterases by alkyl amide phenothiazine derivatives

Bioorg Med Chem. 2005 Jan 3;13(1):211-22. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2004.09.059.


Several lines of evidence indicate that inhibition of butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE) is important in the treatment of certain dementias. Further testing of this concept requires inhibitors that are both BuChE-selective and robust. N-alkyl derivatives (2, 3, 4) of phenothiazine (1) have previously been found to inhibit only BuChE in a mechanism involving pi-pi interaction between the phenothiazine tricyclic ring system and aromatic residues in the active site gorge. To explore features of phenothiazines that affect the selectivity and potency of BuChE inhibition, a series of N-carbonyl derivatives (5-25) was synthesized and examined for the ability to inhibit cholinesterases. Some of the synthesized derivatives also inhibited AChE through a different mechanism involving carbonyl interaction within the active site gorge. Binding of these derivatives takes place within the gorge, since this inhibition disappears when the molecular volume of the derivative exceeds the estimated active site gorge volume of this enzyme. In contrast, BuChE, with a much larger active site gorge, exhibited inhibition that increased directly with the molecular volumes of the derivatives. This study describes two distinct mechanisms for binding phenothiazine amide derivatives to BuChE and AChE. Molecular volume was found to be an important parameter for BuChE-specific inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / drug effects
  • Acetylcholinesterase / metabolism
  • Butyrylcholinesterase / drug effects
  • Butyrylcholinesterase / metabolism
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / chemistry*
  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Phenothiazines / chemistry*
  • Phenothiazines / pharmacology*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors
  • Phenothiazines
  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Butyrylcholinesterase