A novel G protein-biased agonist at the d opioid receptor with analgesic efficacy in models of chronic pain

Alexandra E Conibear, Junaid Asghar, Rob Hill, Graeme Henderson, Eva Borbely, Valeria Tekus, Zsuzsanna Helyes, Jo Palandri, Chris P Bailey, Ingemar Starke, Stephen Williams, David Kendall, Eamonn Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (SciVal)


Agonists at the d opioid receptor are known to be potent antihyperalgesics in chronic pain models and effective in models of anxiety and depression. However, some d opioid agonists have proconvulsant properties while tolerance to the therapeutic effects can develop. Previous evidence indicates that different agonists acting at the d opioid receptor differentially engage signaling and regulatory pathways with significant effects on behavioral outcomes. As such, interest is now growing in the development of biased agonists as a potential means to target specific signaling pathways and potentially improve the therapeutic profile of d opioid agonists. Here, we report on PN6047 (3-[[4-(dimethylcarbamoyl)phenyl]-[1-(thiazol-5-ylmethyl)-4-piperidylidene]methyl]benzamide), a novel G protein-biased and selective d opioid agonist. In cell-based assays, PN6047 fully engages G protein signaling but is a partial agonist in both the arrestin recruitment and internalization assays. PN6047 is effective in rodent models of chronic pain but shows no detectable analgesic tolerance following prolonged treatment. In addition, PN6047 exhibited antidepressant-like activity in the forced swim test, and importantly, the drug had no effect on chemically induced seizures. PN6047 did not exhibit reward-like properties in the conditioned place preference test or induce respiratory depression. Thus, d opioid ligands with limited arrestin signaling such as PN6047 may be therapeutically beneficial in the treatment of chronic pain states.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-236
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number2
Early online date8 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 29 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Medical Research Council [Grant. MR/ N020669/1] and National Brain Research Program 2017-1.2.1-NKP-2017-00002 (NAP-2; Chronic Pain Research Group). Z.H., E.B. and V.T. were supported by Hungarian Research Grants GINOP-2.3.2-15-2016-00050 and EFOP-3.6.2-16-2017-00008. https://doi.org/10.1124/jpet.119.258640. s This article has supplemental material available at jpet.aspetjournals.org.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapy. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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