Histamine H3 receptor antagonists: from target identification to drug leads

Biochem Pharmacol. 2007 Apr 15;73(8):1084-96. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2006.10.031. Epub 2006 Nov 3.


The successful cloning and functional expression of the histamine H(3) receptor in the late 1990 s has greatly facilitated our efforts to identify small molecule, non-imidazole based compounds to permit the evaluation of H(3) antagonists in models of CNS disorders. High-throughput screening identified several series of lead compounds, including a series of imidazopyridines, which led to JNJ-6379490, a compound with high affinity for the human H(3) receptor. Analysis of structural features common to several series of non-imidazole H(3) receptor ligands resulted in a pharmacophore model. This model led to the design of JNJ-5207852, a diamine-based H(3) antagonist with good in vitro and in vivo efficacy but with an undesirable long half-life. However, further modifications of the template provided an understanding of the effect of structural modifications on pharmacokinetic properties, ultimately affording several additional series of compounds including JNJ-10181457, a compound with an improved pharmacokinetic profile. These compounds allowed in vivo pharmacological evaluation to show that H(3) antagonists promote wakefulness, but unlike modafinil and classical psychostimultants, they do not increase locomotor activity or produce any alteration of the EEG power spectral activity in rats. H(3) antagonists also increase extracellular acetylcholine and norepinephrine but not dopamine in rat frontal cortex and show efficacy in various models of learning-memory deficit. In addition, cFos immunoreactivity studies show H(3) antagonists activate neuronal cells in restricted rat brain regions in contrast to widespread activation after modafinil or amphetamine treatment. Therefore, H(3) antagonists are promising clinical candidates for the treatment of excessive day time sleepiness and/or cognitive disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Cognition Disorders / drug therapy
  • DNA, Complementary / isolation & purification
  • DNA, Complementary / metabolism
  • Diamines / chemistry
  • Histamine Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Histamine Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Morpholines / pharmacology
  • Morpholines / therapeutic use
  • Narcolepsy / drug therapy
  • Piperidines / pharmacology*
  • Piperidines / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Histamine H3 / genetics
  • Receptors, Histamine H3 / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Histamine H3 / physiology


  • 1-(4-(3-piperidin-1-ylpropoxy)benzyl)piperidine
  • 4-(3-(4-piperidin-1-ylbut-1-ynyl)benzyl)morpholine
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Diamines
  • Histamine Antagonists
  • Morpholines
  • Piperidines
  • Receptors, Histamine H3