In spite of the well recognized gastric antisecretory activity, the gastroprotective potential of histamine H-2 receptor antagonists is controversial. Most clinical studies in fact indicate that these drugs do not substantially protect the gastric mucosa from aggressive factors. Nitric oxide (NO) has been recently recognized as a fundamental mediator in gastric defence mechanisms, due to its ability to increase gastric mucosal blood flow and mucus production and to inhibit neutrophils adherence to endothelial cells. The aim of this study was to investigate the gastroprotective and H-2 receptor antagonistic activity of a series of lamtidine analogues which contain different NO-releasing moieties (furoxan, nitroxy and nitrosothioI). These compounds were tested, in comparison with related H-2 antagonists devoid of NO-donor structures, in different H-2 receptor assays and in the conscious rat against 0.6 N HCl-induced gastric lesions. All the compounds tested were able to antagonize histamine-mediated responses at cardiac and gastric H-2 receptors; however, furoxan and nitroxy derivatives were 10-fold less potent than the analogues devoid of NO-donor properties. By contrast, NO-donor compounds were more active than reference Il, antagonists as gastroprotective agents against mucosal injury induced by 0.6 N HCl. Among the different NO-donor moieties, the furoxan group conferred to the H-2 antagonist molecule the highest gastroprotective potential; this finding closely correlates with the characteristics of NO release. In conclusions, lamtidine-analogue H-2 antagonists combined with NO-donor moieties are endowed with gastric antisecretory and protective activity and could be the prototypes of a new class of anti-ulcer drugs. Finally, the furoxan NO donor group seems to be the most favourable among the different moieties tested.
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