Endogenous thyroid receptor hormones 3,5,3',5'-tetraiodo-l-thyronine (T(4), 1) and 3,5,3'-triiodo-l-thyronine (T(3), 2) exert a significant effects on growth, development, and homeostasis in mammals. They regulate important genes in intestinal, skeletal, and cardiac muscles, the liver, and the central nervous system, influence overall metabolic rate, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and heart rate, and affect mood and overall sense of well being. The literature suggests many or most effects of thyroid hormones on the heart, in particular on the heart rate and rhythm, are mediated through the TRalpha(1) isoform, while most actions of the hormones on the liver and other tissues are mediated more through the TRbeta(1) isoform of the receptor. Some effects of thyroid hormones may be therapeutically useful in nonthyroid disorders if adverse effects can be minimized or eliminated. These potentially useful features include weight reduction for the treatment of obesity, cholesterol lowering for treating hyperlipidemia, amelioration of depression, and stimulation of bone formation in osteoporosis. Prior attempts to utilize thyroid hormones pharmacologically to treat these disorders have been limited by manifestations of hyperthyroidism and, in particular, cardiovascular toxicity. Consequently, development of thyroid hormone receptor agonists that are selective for the beta-isoform could lead to safe therapies for these common disorders while avoiding cardiotoxicity. We describe here the synthesis and evaluation of a series of novel TR ligands, which are selective for TRbeta(1) over TRalpha(1). These ligands could potentially be useful for treatment of various disorders as outlined above. From a series of homologous R(1)-substituted carboxylic acid derivatives, increasing chain length was found to have a profound effect on affinity and selectivity in a radioreceptor binding assay for the human thyroid hormone receptors alpha(1) and beta(1) (TRalpha(1) and TRbeta(2)) as well as a reporter cell assay employing CHOK1-cells (Chinese hamster ovary cells) stably transfected with hTRalpha(1) or hTRbeta(1) and an alkaline phosphatase reporter-gene downstream thyroid response element (TRAFalpha(1) and TRAFbeta(1)). Affinity increases in the order formic, acetic, and propionic acid, while beta-selectivity is highest when the R(1) position is substituted with acetic acid. Within this series 3,5-dibromo-4-[(4-hydroxy-3-isopropylphenoxy)phenyl]acetic acid (11a) and 3,5-dichloro-4-[(4-hydroxy-3-isopropylphenoxy)phenyl]acetic acid (15) were found to reveal the most promising in vitro data based on isoform selectivity and were selected for further in vivo studies. The effect of 2, 11a, and 15 in a cholesterol-fed rat model was monitored including potencies for heart rate (ED(15)), cholesterol (ED(50)), and TSH (ED(50)). Potency for tachycardia was significantly reduced for the TRbeta selective compounds 11a and 15 compared with 2, while both 11a and 15 retained the cholesterol-lowering potency of 2. This left an approximately 10-fold therapeutic window between heart rate and cholesterol, which is consistent with the action of ligands that are approximately 10-fold more selective for TRbeta(1). We also report the X-ray crystallographic structures of the ligand binding domains of TRalpha and TRbeta in complex with 15. These structures reveal that the single amino acid difference in the ligand binding pocket (Ser277 in TRalpha or Asn331 in TRbeta) results in a slightly different hydrogen bonding pattern that may explain the increased beta-selectivity of 15.
J.Med.Chem. 2003 Apr; 46(9):1580-1588 doi:10.1021/jm021080f