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Pharmacology of Basimglurant (RO4917523, RG7090), a Unique Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 5 Negative Allosteric Modulator in Clinical Development for Depression
Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Lindemann, L., Porter, R. H., Scharf, S. H., Kuennecke, B., Bruns, A., von Kienlin, M., . . . Jaeschke, G. (2015). Pharmacology of basimglurant (RO4917523, RG7090), a unique metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 negative allosteric modulator in clinical development for depression. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 353(1), 213-233.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a serious public health burden and a leading cause of disability. Its pharmacotherapy is currently limited to modulators of monoamine neurotransmitters and second-generation antipsychotics. Recently, glutamatergic approaches for the treatment of MDD have increasingly received attention, and preclinical research suggests that metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGlu5) inhibitors have antidepressant-like properties. Basimglurant (2-chloro-4-[1-(4-fluoro-phenyl)-2,5-dimethyl-1H-imidazol-4-ylethynyl]-pyridine) is a novel mGlu5 negative allosteric modulator currently in phase 2 clinical development for MDD and fragile X syndrome. Here, the comprehensive preclinical pharmacological profile of basimglurant is presented with a focus on its therapeutic potential for MDD and drug-like properties. Basimglurant is a potent, selective, and safe mGlu5 inhibitor with good oral bioavailability and long half-life supportive of once-daily administration, good brain penetration, and high in vivo potency. It has antidepressant properties that are corroborated by its functional magnetic imaging profile as well as anxiolytic-like and antinociceptive features. In electroencephalography recordings, basimglurant shows wake-promoting effects followed by increased delta power during subsequent non-rapid eye movement sleep. In microdialysis studies, basimglurant had no effect on monoamine transmitter levels in the frontal cortex or nucleus accumbens except for a moderate increase of accumbal dopamine, which is in line with its lack of pharmacological activity on monoamine reuptake transporters. These data taken together, basimglurant has favorable drug-like properties, a differentiated molecular mechanism of action, and antidepressant-like features that suggest the possibility of also addressing important comorbidities of MDD including anxiety and pain as well as daytime sleepiness and apathy or lethargy.