Alzheimer's disease is becoming a growing problem increasing at a tremendous rate. Serotonin 5-HT6 receptors appear to be a particularly attractive target from a therapeutic perspective, due to their involvement not only in cognitive processes, but also in depression and psychosis. In this work, we present the synthesis and broad biological characterization of a new series of 18 compounds with a unique 1,3,5-triazine backbone, as potent 5-HT6 receptor ligands. The main aim of this research is to compare the biological activity of the newly synthesized sulfur derivatives with their oxygen analogues and their N-demethylated O- and S-metabolites obtained for the first time. Most of the new triazines displayed high affinity (Ki < 200 nM) and selectivity towards 5-HT6R, with respect to 5-HT2AR, 5-HT7R, and D2R, in the radioligand binding assays. For selected, active compounds crystallographic studies, functional bioassays, and ADME-Tox profile in vitro were performed. The exciting novelty is that the sulfur derivatives exhibit an agonistic mode of action contrary to all other compounds obtained to date in this chemical class herein and previously reported. Advanced computational studies indicated that this intriguing functional shift might be caused by presence of chalcogen bonds formed only by the sulfur atom. In addition, the N-demethylated derivatives have emerged highly potent antioxidants and, moreover, show a significant improvement in metabolic stability compared to the parent structures. The cholinesterase study present micromolar inhibitory AChE and BChE activity for both 5-HT6 agonist 19 and potent antagonist 5. Finally, the behavioral experiments of compound 19 demonstrated its antidepressant-like properties and slight ability to improve cognitive deficits, without inducing memory impairments by itself. Described pharmacological properties of both compounds (5 and 19) allow to give a design clue for the development of multitarget compounds with 5-HT6 (both agonist and antagonist)/AChE and/or BChE mechanism in the group of 1,3,5-triazine derivatives.
Keywords: 1,3,5-Triazine; 5-HT(6) serotonin receptors; ADME-Tox; Behavioral tests; Thioether.
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