Journal of medicinal chemistry 2017 08 1460(16) 7186-7198 doi 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.7b00966
Aberrant excitatory neurotransmission associated with overproduction of glutamate has been implicated in the development of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). The glutamine antagonist 6-diazo-5-oxo-l-norleucine (DON, 14) attenuates glutamate synthesis in HIV-infected microglia/macrophages, offering therapeutic potential for HAND. We show that 14 prevents manifestation of spatial memory deficits in chimeric EcoHIV-infected mice, a model of HAND. 14 is not clinically available, however, because its development was hampered by peripheral toxicities. We describe the synthesis of several substituted N-(pivaloyloxy)alkoxy-carbonyl prodrugs of 14 designed to circulate inert in plasma and be taken up and biotransformed to 14 in the brain. The lead prodrug, isopropyl 6-diazo-5-oxo-2-(((phenyl(pivaloyloxy)methoxy)carbonyl)amino)hexanoate (13d), was stable in swine and human plasma but liberated 14 in swine brain homogenate. When dosed systemically in swine, 13d provided a 15-fold enhanced CSF-to-plasma ratio and a 9-fold enhanced brain-to-plasma ratio relative to 14, opening a possible clinical path for the treatment of HAND.