Starting from the structure of thioperamide, a known H3-antagonist, a new series of compounds with a benzothiazole nucleus instead of the cyclohexylcarbothioamide moiety was synthesized. Various substituents, selected by experimental design, were introduced in position 6 of the benzothiazole nucleus, in order to change its physico-chemical characteristics. The lipophilicity of the synthesized compounds was measured by means of RP-HPLC, and their H3-receptor affinity was evaluated by competitive binding assays on rat cortex synaptosomes, with the labelled ligand N(α)-[3H]methylhistamine. A QSAR analysis was performed on the experimental data, using also substituent constants taken from the literature. The newly synthesized compounds showed lower H3-affinities than thioperamide; quantitative structure-activity relationships, described by models obtained with PLS and MRA techniques, were observed among benzothiazole derivatives. According to these relationships, any attempt to improve the potency of these compounds should involve the substitution of the benzothiazole moiety with less bulky and/or more flexible structures, which should also be less lipophilic and allow better electronic interactions with the binding site. 1-(Benzothiazol-2-yl)-4-[(1H)-imidazol-4-yl]piperidine represents a limit structure for H3-activity, since it seems impossible to improve its affinity by means of substitution in the studied position of the benzothiazole nucleus, as shown by predictions performed by a PLS model.
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