Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Malgorzata Dukat

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard A. Glennon


5-HT2B receptor agonism causes cardiac valvulopathy, a condition characterized by thickening of the heart valves and as a result, regurgitation of blood within the heart. The anti-obesity drug fenfluramine, which was originally prescribed as an anorectic, was withdrawn from the market due to causing cardiac valvulopathy. Fenfluramine, after metabolism by N-dealkylation, produces the metabolite norfenfluramine, which acts as a more potent valvulopathogen. The same was seen with MDMA (ecstasy), a popular drug of abuse, which is metabolized by N-dealkylation to produce MDA, a more potent valvulopathogen. Glennon and co-workers. studied a series of 2,5-dimethoxy-4- substituted phenylisopropylamines (DOX type) hallucinogens and determined their affinities at the three types of 5-HT2 receptors. A high correlation was found between the affinities of these molecules at 5-HT2A and 5-HT2B receptors. Therefore, these hallucinogens have a high possibility of causing valvulopathy, which gives rise to a new class of valvulopathogens.

Since certain hallucinogens have the common phenylisopropylamine structural scaffold as that of MDA and norfenfluramine, we conducted 3D-QSAR studies to identify the common structural features of these molecules that are responsible for their high affinities. We were unable to obtain a suitable CoMFA and CoMSIA model for 5-HT2B receptors, but we were able to obtain an internally and externally validated model for 5-HT2A receptor affinities which indicated the hydrophobicity of the substituent at the 4- position was essential for high affinity. Following up with this evidence, we conducted a correlation analysis for the hydrophobicity (π-value) of the 4-position substituent and found a positive correlation between the π-value and the affinity of the molecules. The same results were not observed for the volume of the substituents.

We docked the molecules into the 5-HT2B receptor and successfully generated models of the putative interactions made by the DOX molecules and the receptor. In order to compare their binding modes with respect to known valvulopathogens, we also generated models for norfenfluramine and MDA. Our docking results revealed that DOX molecules bind in a more or less similar manner to valvulopathogens MDA and norfenfluramine. Ours is the first in silico model developed for the potent valvulopathogen MDA and the hallucinogenic DOX series of molecules.


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