Design and Synthesis of Potent and Highly Selective Orexin 1 Receptor Antagonists With a Morphinan Skeleton and Their Pharmacologies

J Med Chem. 2017 Feb 9;60(3):1018-1040. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b01418. Epub 2017 Jan 18.


Nalfurafine, a κ-selective opioid receptor agonist, unexpectedly showed a selective antagonist activity toward the orexin 1 receptor (OX1R) (Ki = 250 nM). Modification of the 17-amino side chain of the opioid ligand to an arylsulfonyl group and the 6-furan acrylamide chain to 2-pyridyl acrylamide led to compound 71 with improvement of the antagonist activity (OX1R, Ki = 1.36 nM; OX2R, not active) without any detectable affinity for the opioid receptor. The dihydrosulfate salt of 71, freely soluble in water, attenuated the physical dependence of morphine. Furthermore, all of the active nalfurafine derivatives in this study had almost no activity for OX2R, which led to high OX1R selectivity. These results suggest that nalfurafine derivatives could be a useful series of lead compounds to develop highly selective OX1R antagonists.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ligands
  • Mice
  • Morphinans / chemistry*
  • Morphinans / pharmacology
  • Orexin Receptors / drug effects*
  • Spiro Compounds / chemistry*
  • Spiro Compounds / pharmacology*


  • Ligands
  • Morphinans
  • Orexin Receptors
  • Spiro Compounds
  • TRK 820