A selective orexin-1 receptor antagonist attenuates stress-induced hyperarousal without hypnotic effects

Pascal Bonaventure, Sujin Yun, Philip L. Johnson, Anantha Shekhar, Stephanie D. Fitz, Brock T. Shireman, Terry P. Lebold, Diane Nepomuceno, Brian Lord, Michelle Wennerholm, Jonathan Shelton, Nicholas Carruthers, Timothy Lovenberg, Christine Dugovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Scopus citations


Orexins (OXs) are peptides produced by perifornical (PeF) and lateral hypothalamic neurons that exert a prominent role in arousal-related processes, including stress. A critical role for the orexin-1 receptor (OX1R) in complex emotional behavior is emerging, such as overactivation of the OX1R pathway being associated with panic or anxiety states. Here we characterize a brain-penetrant, selective, and high-affinity OX1R antagonist, compound 56 [N-({3-[(3-ethoxy-6-methylpyridin-2-yl)carbonyl]-3-azabicyclo[4.1.0]hept-4-yl}methyl)-5-(trifluoromethyl)pyrimidin-2-amine]. Ex vivo receptor binding studies demonstrated that, after subcutaneous administration, compound 56 crossed the blood-brain barrier and occupied OX1Rs in the rat brain at lower doses than standard OX1R antagonists GSK-1059865 [5-bromo-N-({1-[(3-fluoro-2-methoxyphenyl)carbonyl]-5-methylpiperidin-2-yl} methyl)pyridin-2-amine], SB-334867 [1-(2-methyl-1,3-benzoxazol-6-yl)-3-(1,5-naphthyridin-4-yl)urea], and SB-408124 [1-(6,8-difluoro-2-methylquinolin-4-yl)-3-[4-(dimethylamino)phenyl]urea]. Although compound 56 did not alter spontaneous sleep in rats and in wildtype mice, its administration in orexin-2 receptor knockout mice selectively promoted rapid eye movement sleep, demonstrating target engagement and specific OX1R blockade. In a rat model of psychological stress induced by cage exchange, the OX1R antagonist prevented the prolongation of sleep onset without affecting sleep duration. In a rat model of panic vulnerability (involving disinhibition of the PeF OX region) to threatening internal state changes (i.e., intravenous sodium lactate infusion), compound 56 attenuated sodium lactate-induced panic-like behaviors and cardiovascular responses without altering baseline locomotor or autonomic activity. In conclusion, OX1R antagonism represents a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of various psychiatric disorders associated with stress or hyperarousal states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)590-601
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology

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