Bivalent ligands that target μ opioid (MOP) and cannabinoid1 (CB 1) receptors are potent analgesics devoid of tolerance

Morgan Le Naour, Eyup Akgün, Ajay Yekkirala, Mary M. Lunzer, Mike D. Powers, Alexander E. Kalyuzhny, Philip S. Portoghese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Given that μ opioid (MOP) and canabinoid (CB1) receptors are colocalized in various regions of the central nervous system and have been reported to associate as heteromer (MOP-CB1) in cultured cells, the possibility of functional, endogenous MOP-CB1 in nociception and other pharmacologic effects has been raised. As a first step in investigating this possibility, we have synthesized a series of bivalent ligands 1-5 that contain both μ agonist and CB1 antagonist pharmacophores for use as tools to study the functional interaction between MOP and CB1 receptors in vivo. Immunofluorescent studies on HEK293 cells coexpressing both receptors suggested 5 (20-atom spacer) to be the only member of the series that bridges the protomers of the heteromer. Antinociceptive testing in mice revealed 5 to be the most potent member of the series. As neither a mixture of monovalent ligands 9 + 10 nor bivalents 2-5 produced tolerance in mice, MOR-CB1 apparently is not an important target for reducing tolerance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5505-5513
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of medicinal chemistry
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 11 2013


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