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Conjugating uncoupler compounds with hydrophobic hydrocarbon chains to achieve adipose tissue selective drug accumulation

Ng, Mei Ying, Song, Zhi Jian, Venkatesan, Gopalakrishnan, Rodriguez-Cuenca, Sergio, West, James A., Yang, Shili, Tan, Choon Hong, Ho, Paul Chi-Lui, Griffin, Julian L., Vidal-Puig, Antonio, Bassetto, Marcella and Hagen, Thilo 2024. Conjugating uncoupler compounds with hydrophobic hydrocarbon chains to achieve adipose tissue selective drug accumulation. Scientific Reports 14 (1) , 4932. 10.1038/s41598-024-54466-2

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One potential approach for treating obesity is to increase energy expenditure in brown and white adipose tissue. Here we aimed to achieve this outcome by targeting mitochondrial uncoupler compounds selectively to adipose tissue, thus avoiding side effects from uncoupling in other tissues. Selective drug accumulation in adipose tissue has been observed with many lipophilic compounds and dyes. Hence, we explored the feasibility of conjugating uncoupler compounds with a lipophilic C8-hydrocarbon chain via an ether bond. We found that substituting the trifluoromethoxy group in the uncoupler FCCP with a C8-hydrocarbon chain resulted in potent uncoupling activity. Nonetheless, the compound did not elicit therapeutic effects in mice, likely as a consequence of metabolic instability resulting from rapid ether bond cleavage. A lipophilic analog of the uncoupler compound 2,6-dinitrophenol, in which a C8-hydrocarbon chain was conjugated via an ether bond in the para-position (2,6-dinitro-4-(octyloxy)phenol), exhibited increased uncoupling activity compared to the parent compound. However, in vivo pharmacokinetics studies suggested that 2,6-dinitro-4-(octyloxy)phenol was also metabolically unstable. In conclusion, conjugation of a hydrophobic hydrocarbon chain to uncoupler compounds resulted in sustained or improved uncoupling activity. However, an ether bond linkage led to metabolic instability, indicating the need to conjugate lipophilic groups via other chemical bonds.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Pharmacy
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:, Type: open-access
Publisher: Nature Research
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 March 2024
Date of Acceptance: 13 February 2024
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 09:45

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