In-Vivo and Ex-Vivo Brain Uptake Studies of Peptidomimetic Neurolysin Activators in Healthy and Stroke Animals

Saeideh Nozohouri, Shiva Hadi Esfahani, Behnam Noorani, Dhaval Patel, Heidi Villalba, Yashwardhan Ghanwatkar, Md Shafikur Rahman, Yong Zhang, Ulrich Bickel, Paul C. Trippier, Vardan T. Karamyan, Thomas J. Abbruscato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Neurolysin (Nln) is a peptidase that functions to preserve the brain following ischemic stroke by hydrolyzing various neuropeptides. Nln activation has emerged as an attractive drug discovery target for treatment of ischemic stroke. Among first-in-class peptidomimetic Nln activators, we selected three lead compounds (9d, 10c, 11a) for quantitative pharmacokinetic analysis to provide valuable information for subsequent preclinical development. Methods: Pharmacokinetic profile of these compounds was studied in healthy and ischemic stroke-induced mice after bolus intravenous administration. Brain concentration and brain uptake clearance (Kin) was calculated from single time point analysis. The inter-relationship between LogP with in-vitro and in-vivo permeability was studied to determine CNS penetration. Brain slice uptake method was used to study tissue binding, whereas P-gp-mediated transport was evaluated to understand the potential brain efflux of these compounds. Results: According to calculated parameters, all three compounds showed a detectable amount in the brain after intravenous administration at 4 mg/kg; however, 11a had the highest brain concentration and brain uptake clearance. A strong correlation was documented between in-vitro and in-vivo permeability data. The efflux ratio of 10c was ~6-fold higher compared to 11a and correlated well with its lower Kin value. In experimental stroke animals, the Kin of 11a was significantly higher in ischemic vs. contralateral and intact hemispheres, though it remained below its A50 value required to activate Nln. Conclusions: Collectively, these preclinical pharmacokinetic studies reveal promising BBB permeability of 11a and indicate that it can serve as an excellent lead for developing improved drug-like Nln activators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1587-1598
Number of pages12
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Neuropeptidase
  • enzyme activators
  • ischemic stroke
  • pharmacokinetic study
  • small molecules

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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