Evaluation of blood-brain barrier penetration and examination of binding to human serum albumin of 7-O-arylpiperazinylcoumarins as potential antipsychotic agents

Publication: Bioorg Chem
Software: ADMET Predictor®


The delivery of drugs to the brain is complicated by the multiple factors including low blood–brain barrier (BBB) passive permeability, active BBB efflux systems, and plasma protein binding. Thus, a detailed understanding of the transport of the new potent substances through the membranes is vitally important and their physico-chemical characteristics should be analyzed at first. This work presents an evaluation of drug likeness of eight 7-O-arylpiperazinylcoumarin derivatives with high affinity towards serotoninergic receptors 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A with particular analysis of the requirements for the CNS chemotherapeutics. The binding constants to human serum albumin (HSA) were determined at physiological pH using fluorescence spectroscopy, and then their mode of action was explained by analysis of theoretical HSA complexes. Dynamic simulation of systems allowed for reliable evaluation of the interaction strength. The analyzed coumarins were able to pass BBB, and they present good drug likeness properties. They showed high affinities to HSA (log KQ = 5.3–6.0 which corresponds to −8.12 to −7.15 kcalmol−1 of Gibbs free energy). The changes of the emission intensity upon binding to HSA were scrutinized showing the different mode of action for 4-phenylpiperazinylcoumarins. The values of computed Gibbs free energy and determined on the basis of experimentally obtained binding constants log KQ coincide suggesting a good quality of the theoretical model. Overall the 8-acetyl-7-O-arylpiperazinyl-4-methylcoumarin derivatives represent valuable lead compounds to be further tested in various preclinical assays as a possible chemotherapeutics against CNS diseases. Studied coumarins can be metabolized by cytochrome P450 to aldehydes and hydroxy derivatives. The existence of other binding sites inside HSA than Sudlow’s site 1 was postulated. The longer aliphatic linker between coumarin and piperazine moieties favored binding to HSA in other than Sudlow site 1 pocket.