N-((6,6-diphenyl-1,4-dioxan-2-yl)methyl)-2-(2-methoxyphenoxy)ethan-1-amine (3) is a potent 5-HT1A receptor and α1d-adrenoceptor (α1d-AR) ligand. Analogues 5-10 were rationally designed and prepared to evaluate whether electronic and/or lipophilic properties of substituents in the ortho position of its phenoxy moiety exert any favorable effects on the affinity/activity at 5-HT1A receptor and improve selectivity over α1-ARs. To rationalize the experimental observations and derive information about receptor-ligand interactions of the reported ligands, docking studies, using 5-HT1A and α1d-AR models generated by homology techniques, and a retrospective computational study were performed. The results highlighted that proper substituents in position 2 of the phenoxy moiety of 3 selectively address the ligands toward 5-HT1A receptor with respect to α1-ARs and D2-like receptor subtypes. Methoxymethylenoxy derivative 9 showed the best 5-HT1A selectivity profile and the highest potency at 5-HT1A receptor, behaving as a partial agonist. Finally, 9, tested in light/dark exploration test in mice, significantly reduced anxiety-linked behaviors. Therefore, it may be considered a lead for the design of partial agonists potentially useful in the treatment of disorders in which 5-HT1A receptor is involved.
Keywords: 5-HT(1A) receptor; Anxiolytic effect; D(2)-like receptor subtypes; Docking studies; Selective 5-HT(1A) receptor agonists; α(1)-Adrenoceptor subtypes.
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