Orally active metabotropic glutamate subtype 2 receptor positive allosteric modulators: structure-activity relationships and assessment in a rat model of nicotine dependence

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Compounds that modulate metabotropic glutamate subtype 2 (mGlu2) receptors have the potential to treat several disorders of the central nervous system (CNS) including drug dependence. Herein we describe the synthesis and structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies around a series of mGlu2 receptor positive allosteric modulators (PAMs). The effects of N-substitution (R1) and substitutions on the aryl ring (R2) were identified as key areas for SAR exploration (Figure 3). Investigation of the effects of varying substituents in both the isoindolinone (2) and benzisothiazolone (3) series led to compounds with improved in vitro potency and/or efficacy. In addition, several analogues exhibited promising pharmacokinetic (PK) properties. Furthermore, compound 2 was shown to dose-dependently decrease nicotine self-administration in rats following oral administration. Our data, showing for the first time efficacy of an mGlu2 receptor PAM in this in vivo model, suggest potential utility for the treatment of nicotine dependence in humans.