A tertiary alcohol analog of γ-hydroxybutyric acid as a specific γ-hydroxybutyric acid receptor ligand

Huifang Wu, Nick Zink, Lawrence P. Carter, Ashok K. Mehta, R. Jason Hernandez, Maharaj K. Ticku, Richard Lamb, Charles P. France, Andrew Coop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


γ-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) shows great promise as a treatment for sleeping disorders but is also increasingly abused. The exact mechanism of action of GHB is yet to be delineated, but it is known to interact with specific GHB binding sites or receptors, to act as a weak agonist at GABAB receptors, and that GHB undergoes metabolism to GABA. In drug discrimination studies, GABAB agonists, and to a lesser extent GABAA-positive modulators, substitute for GHB. To delineate the relative contributions of each receptor system to the profile of GHB, tertiary alcohol analogs of GHB and its homolog, 5-hydroxypentanoic acid (UMB58), were prepared (UMB68 and UMB75, respectively), which cannot be metabolized to GABA-active compounds. Binding studies against [3H]NCS-382 [(2E)-(5hydroxy-5,7,8,9-tetrahydro-6H-benzo[a][7]annulen-6-ylidene) ethanoic acid] showed that the tertiary alcohol analog of GHB (UMB68) has similar affinity to GHB, with the longer chain analogs possessing lower affinity. Against [3H]GABA, UMB68 showed no affinity (IC50 >100 μM) at GABAA or GABAB receptors. In vivo studies showed that, at behaviorally active doses, rats trained to discriminate GHB did not recognize the novel ligands as GHB. Thus, UMB68 is a selective GHB receptor ligand in binding assays, will not undergo metabolism to GABAactive compounds, and does not show the same effects as GHB in vivo. These data suggest that, although UMB68 binds to the GHB receptor, it does not have the observed GABA receptor-mediated effects of GHB in vivo and could provide a novel tool for studying the pharmacology of the GHB receptor in the absence of complicating GABA-ergic effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-679
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'A tertiary alcohol analog of γ-hydroxybutyric acid as a specific γ-hydroxybutyric acid receptor ligand'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this