PURPOSE: There is considerable interest in positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) of the α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate (AMPA) subtype of ionotropic glutamate receptors as therapeutic agents for a range of cognitive and mood disorders. However, the challenge is to increase AMPA receptor (AMPAR) function sufficient to enhance cognitive function but not to the extent that there are mechanism-related pro-convulsant or convulsant side effects. In this present study, we report the preclinical pharmacology data for MDI-222, an AMPAR PAM which enhances cognition but has a much reduced side-effect (i.e. convulsant) liability relative to other molecules of this mechanism.METHODS: The pharmacological effects of MDI-222 were characterised in in vitro and in vivo preclinical electrophysiology, efficacy (cognition), side-effect (pro-convulsant/convulsant), tolerability and toxicity assays.RESULTS: We demonstrate that MDI-222 is an AMPAR PAM, since it enhanced AMPAR function in vitro at human (hGluA1-4) and rat (rGluA2) homomeric receptors, and potentiated hetero-oligomeric AMPARs in rat neurons. MDI-222 enhanced electrically evoked AMPAR-mediated synaptic transmission in the anaesthetised rat at 10 mg/kg (administered intravenously) and did not significantly lower the seizure threshold in the pro-convulsant maximal electroshock threshold test (MEST) at any dose tested up to a maximum of 30 mg/kg (administered by oral gavage (p.o.)). MDI-222 reversed a delay-induced deficit in novel object recognition (NOR) in rats with a minimum effective dose (MED) of 0.3 mg/kg (p.o.) following acute administration, which was reduced to 0.1 mg/kg following sub-chronic administration, and improved passive avoidance performance in scopolamine-impaired rats with a MED of 10 mg/kg p.o. On the other hand, MDI-222 was not pro-convulsant in the MEST, resulting in a therapeutic window between plasma concentrations that enhanced cognitive performance and those associated with mechanism-related side effects of ⩾1000-fold. Unfortunately, despite the excellent preclinical profile of this compound, further development had to be halted due to non-mechanism-related issues.CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that MDI-222 is an AMPAR PAM which enhances cognitive performance in rats and has a significantly improved safety profile in preclinical species.
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