Brain-targeted delivery of a leucine-enkephalin analogue by retrometabolic design

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A brain-targeted chemical delivery system (CDS) based on retrometabolic drug design was applied to a Leu-enkephalin analogue, Tyr-D-Ala-Gly-Phe-D- Leu (DADLE). The molecular architecture of the peptide CDS disguises its peptide nature from neuropeptide-degrading enzymes and provides lipophilic, bioreversible functions for the penetration through the blood-brain barrier. These functions were provided by a targetor, a 1,4-dihydrotrigonellyl group, on the N-terminus and a bulky, lipophilic ester group on the C-terminus. A spacer amino acid residue was also inserted between the targetor and the parent peptide to assure the release of DADLE by specific enzymes. Four CDSs were synthesized by segment-coupling method that proved to be superior to sequential elongation in obtaining this type of peptide conjugates. Intravenous injection of the compounds produced a significant and long- lasting response in rats monitored by the tail-flick latency measurements. CDSs having the bulkier cholesteryl group showed a better efficacy than those having the smaller 1-adamantaneethyl ester. The spacer was the most important factor to manipulate the rate of DADLE release and, thus, the pharmacological activity; proline as a spacer produced more potent analgesia than alanine. The antinociceptive effect of the CDSs was naloxone-reversible and methylnaloxonium-irreversible, confirming that central opiate receptors were solely responsible for mediating analgesia induced by the peptide CDS that delivered, retained, and then released the peptide in the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4775-4782
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number24
StatePublished - 22 Nov 1996


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