Herein, we describe the rapid synthesis of a focused library of trisubstituted imidazo[4,5-b]pyridines and imidazo[4,5-c]pyridines from 2,4-dichloro-3-nitropyridine using the combination of solution-phase/solid-phase chemistry as new potential anti-inflammatory agents in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Structure-activity relationship studies, followed by the structure optimization, provided hit compounds (17 and 28) which inhibited phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) with IC values comparable to rolipram and displayed different inhibitory potency against phosphodiesterase 7 (PDE7). Among them, compound 17 showed a beneficial effect in all the studied animal models of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases (concanavalin A-induced hepatitis, lipopolysaccharide-induced endotoxemia, collagen-induced arthritis, and MOG-induced encephalomyelitis). In addition, compound 17 showed a favorable pharmacokinetic profile after intraperitoneal administration; it was characterized by a fast absorption from the peritoneal cavity and a relatively long terminal half-life in rats. It was found to penetrate brain barrier in mice. The performed experiments sheds light on the impact of PDE7A inhibition for the efficacy of PDE4 inhibitors in these disease conditions.
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