The use of α-amino-γ lactam of Freidinger (Agl) may serve as an impressive method to increase the biological stability of peptides and an appropriate tool to elucidate their structure-activity relationships. The endomorphin-2 (EM-2) and [D-Ala, des-Leu] enkephalin amide (DAPEA) are two linear opioid tetrapeptides agonists of MOR and MOR/DOR respectively. Herein, we investigated the influence of the incorporation of (R/S)-Agl in position 2 and 3 on the biological profile of the aforementioned products in vitro and in vivo. Receptor radiolabeled displacement and functional assays were used to measure in vitro the binding affinity and receptors activation of the novel analogues. The mouse tail flick and formalin tests allowed to observe their antinociceptive effect in vivo. Data revealed that peptide A2D was able to selectively bind and activate MOR with a potent antinociceptive effect after intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) administration, performing better than the parent compounds EM-2 and DAPEA. Molecular docking calculations helped us to understand the key role exerted by the Freidinger Agl moiety in A2D for the interaction with the MOR binding pocket.
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