Title: MRK-409 (MK-0343), a GABA(A) receptor subtype-selective partial agonist, is a non-sedating anxiolytic in preclinical species but causes sedation in humans
Authors: Atack, J. R ×
Wafford, K. A
Street, L. J
Dawson, G. R
Tye, S
Van Laere, Koen
Bormans, Guy
Sanabria-Bohorquez, S. M
De Lepeleire, I
de Hoon, Jan
Van Hecken, Anne
Burns, H. D
McKernan, R. M
Murphy, M. G
Hargreaves, R. J #
Issue Date: Mar-2011
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Series Title: Journal of Psychopharmacology vol:25 issue:3 pages:314-328
Abstract: MRK-409 binds to alpha 1-, alpha 2-, alpha 3- and alpha 5-containing human recombinant GABA(A) receptors with comparable high affinity (0.21-0.40 nM). However, MRK-409 has greater agonist efficacy at the alpha 3 compared with alpha 1 subtypes (respective efficacies relative to the full agonist chlordiazepoxide of 0.45 and 0.18). This compound readily penetrates the brain in rats and occupies the benzodiazepine site of GABA(A) receptors, measured using an in vivo [H-3] flumazenil binding assay, with an Occ(50) of 2.2mg/kg p.o. and a corresponding plasma EC50 of 115 ng/mL. Behaviourally, the alpha 3-preferring agonist efficacy profile of MRK-409 produced anxiolytic-like activity in rodent and primate unconditioned and conditioned models of anxiety with minimum effective doses corresponding to occupancies, depending on the particular model, ranging from similar to 35% to 65% yet there were minimal overt signs of sedation at occupancies greater than 90%. In humans, however, safety and tolerability studies showed that there was pronounced sedation at a dose of 2mg, resulting in a maximal tolerated dose of 1mg. This 2mg dose corresponded to a C-max plasma concentration of 28 ng/mL, which, based on the rodent plasma EC50 for occupancy of 115 ng/mL, suggested that sedation in humans occurs at low levels of occupancy. This was confirmed in human positron emission tomography studies, in which [C-11] flumazenil uptake following a single dose of 1mg MRK-409 was comparable to that of placebo, indicating that occupancy of GABA(A) receptor benzodiazepine binding sites by MRK-409 was below the limits of detection (i.e. < 10%). Taken together, these data show that MRK-409 causes sedation in humans at a dose (2 mg) corresponding to levels of occupancy considerably less than those predicted from rodent models to be required for anxiolytic efficacy (similar to 35-65%). Thus, the preclinical non-sedating anxiolytic profile of MRK-409 did not translate into humans and further development of this compound was halted.
ISSN: 0269-8811
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Clinical Pharmacology Centre (-)
Radiopharmaceutical Research
Nuclear Medicine & Molecular Imaging
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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