In vitro intrinsic clearance-based optimization of N3-phenylpyrazinones as corticotropin-releasing factor-1 (CRF1) receptor antagonists

J Med Chem. 2009 Jul 23;52(14):4161-72. doi: 10.1021/jm900302q.


A series of pyrazinone-based heterocycles was identified as potent and orally active corticotropin-releasing factor-1 (CRF(1)) receptor antagonists. Selected compounds proved efficacious in an anxiety model in rats; however, pharmacokinetic properties were not optimal. In this article, we describe an in vitro intrinsic clearance-based approach to the optimization of pyrazinone-based CRF(1) receptor antagonists wherein sites of metabolism were identified by incubation with human liver microsomes. It was found that the rate of metabolism could be decreased by incorporation of appropriate substituents at the primary sites of metabolism. This led to the discovery of compound 12x, a highly potent (IC(50) = 1.0 nM) and selective CRF(1) receptor antagonist with good oral bioavailability (F = 52%) in rats and efficacy in the defensive withdrawal anxiety test in rats.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Pyrazines / chemistry
  • Pyrazines / metabolism
  • Pyrazines / pharmacokinetics*
  • Pyrazines / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptors, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism


  • Pyrazines
  • Receptors, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • CRF receptor type 1