Enantiomerically Pure Quinoline-Based κ-Opioid Receptor Agonists: Chemoenzymatic Synthesis and Pharmacological Evaluation

Benedikt Martin, Dirk Schepmann, Freddy A. Bernal, Thomas J. Schmidt, Tao Che, Karin Loser, Bernhard Wünsch

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Racemic K-opioid receptor (KOR) agonist 2-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1-[(4aRS,8SR,8aSR)-8-(pyrrolidin-1-yl)-3,4,4a,5,6,7,8,8a-octahydroquinolin-1(2H)-yl]ethan-1-one ((±)-4) was prepared in a diastereoselective synthesis. The first key step of the synthesis was the diastereoselective hydrogenation of the silyl ether of 1,2,3,4-tetrahydroquinoin-8-ol ((±)-9) to afford cis,cis-configured perhydroquinoline derivative (±)-10. Removal of the TBDMS protecting group led to a β-aminoalcohol that reacted with SO2Cl2 to form an oxathiazolidine. Nucleophilic substitution with pyrrolidine resulted in the desired cis,trans-configured perhydroquinoline upon inversion of the configuration. In order to obtain enantiomerically pure KOR agonists 4 (99.8 % ee) and ent-4 (99.0 % ee), 1,2,3,4-tetrahydroquinolin-8-ols (R)-8 (99.1 % ee) and (S)-8 (98.4 % ee) were resolved by an enantioselective acetylation catalyzed by Amano lipase PS-IM. The absolute configuration was determined by CD spectroscopy. The 4aR,8S,8aS-configured enantiomer 4 showed sub-nanomolar KOR affinity (Ki=0.81 nM), which is more than 200 times higher than the KOR affinity of its enantiomer ent-4. In the cAMP assay and the Tango β-arrestin-2 recruitment assay, 4 behaved as a KOR agonist. Upon incubation of human macrophages, human dendritic cells, and mouse myeloid immune cells with 4, the number of cells expressing co-stimulatory receptor CD86 and proinflammatory cytokines interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor α was significantly reduced; this indicates the strong anti-inflammatory activity of 4. The anti-inflammatory effects correlated well with the KOR affinity: (4aR,8S,8aS)-4 was slightly more potent than the racemic mixture (±)-4, and the distomer ent-4 was almost inactive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1408-1420
Number of pages13
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 5 2020


  • KOR agonists
  • anti-inflammatory activity
  • diastereoselective synthesis
  • lipase-catalyzed kinetic resolution
  • perhydroquinolines


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