Novel Aryloxyethyl Derivatives of 1-(1-Benzoylpiperidin-4-yl)methanamine as the Extracellular Regulated Kinases 1/2 (ERK1/2) Phosphorylation-Preferring Serotonin 5-HT1A Receptor-Biased Agonists with Robust Antidepressant-like Activity

J Med Chem. 2019 Mar 14;62(5):2750-2771. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.9b00062. Epub 2019 Mar 2.


Novel 1-(1-benzoylpiperidin-4-yl)methanamine derivatives were designed as "biased agonists" of serotonin 5-HT1A receptors. The compounds were tested in signal transduction assays (ERK1/2 phosphorylation, cAMP inhibition, Ca2+ mobilization, and β-arrestin recruitment) which identified ERK1/2 phosphorylation-preferring aryloxyethyl derivatives. The novel series showed high 5-HT1A receptor affinity, >1000-fold selectivity versus noradrenergic α1, dopamine D2, serotonin 5-HT2A, histamine H1, and muscarinic M1 receptors, and favorable druglike properties (CNS-MPO, Fsp3, LELP). The lead structure, (3-chloro-4-fluorophenyl)(4-fluoro-4-(((2-(pyridin-2-yloxy)ethyl)amino)methyl)piperidin-1-yl)methanone (17, NLX-204), displayed high selectivity in the SafetyScreen44 panel (including hERG channel), high solubility, metabolic stability, and Caco-2 penetration and did not block CYP3A4, CYP2D6 isoenzymes, or P-glycoprotein. Preliminary in vivo studies confirmed its promising pharmacokinetic profile. 17 also robustly stimulated ERK1/2 phosphorylation in rat cortex and showed highly potent (MED = 0.16 mg/kg) and efficacious antidepressant-like activity, totally eliminating immobility in the rat Porsolt test. These data suggest that the present 5-HT1A receptor-biased agonists could constitute promising antidepressant drug candidates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / chemistry
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / pharmacology*
  • CHO Cells
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cricetulus
  • Drug Design
  • Humans
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / drug effects*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Piperidines / chemistry
  • Piperidines / pharmacokinetics
  • Piperidines / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1A / drug effects*
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists / chemistry
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists / pharmacokinetics
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation
  • Piperidines
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists
  • Receptor, Serotonin, 5-HT1A