Paracetamol analogues conjugated by FAAH induce TRPV1-mediated antinociception without causing acute liver toxicity

Johan Nilsson, Christophe Mallet, Kiseko Shionoya, Anders Blomgren, Anders P. Sundin, Lars Grundemar, Ludivine Boudieu, Anders Blomqvist, Alain Eschalier, Ulf J. Nilsson, Peter M. Zygmunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Paracetamol, one of the most widely used pain-relieving drugs, is deacetylated to 4-aminophenol (4-AP) that undergoes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH)-dependent biotransformation into N-arachidonoylphenolamine (AM404), which mediates TRPV1-dependent antinociception in the brain of rodents. However, paracetamol is also converted to the liver-toxic metabolite N-acetyl-p-benzoquinone imine already at therapeutic doses, urging for safer paracetamol analogues. Primary amine analogues with chemical structures similar to paracetamol were evaluated for their propensity to undergo FAAH-dependent N-arachidonoyl conjugation into TRPV1 activators both in vitro and in vivo in rodents. The antinociceptive and antipyretic activity of paracetamol and primary amine analogues was examined with regard to FAAH and TRPV1 as well as if these analogues produced acute liver toxicity. 5-Amino-2-methoxyphenol (2) and 5-aminoindazole (3) displayed efficient target protein interactions with a dose-dependent antinociceptive effect in the mice formalin test, which in the second phase was dependent on FAAH and TRPV1. No hepatotoxicity of the FAAH substrates transformed into TRPV1 activators was observed. While paracetamol attenuates pyrexia via inhibition of brain cyclooxygenase, its antinociceptive FAAH substrate 4-AP was not antipyretic, suggesting separate mechanisms for the antipyretic and antinociceptive effect of paracetamol. Furthermore, compound 3 reduced fever without a brain cyclooxygenase inhibitory action. The data support our view that analgesics and antipyretics without liver toxicity can be derived from paracetamol. Thus, research into the molecular actions of paracetamol could pave the way for the discovery of analgesics and antipyretics with a better benefit-to-risk ratio.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113042
JournalEuropean Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Pharmacology and Toxicology

Free keywords

  • Acetaminophen
  • Analgesic
  • FAAH
  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Paracetamol
  • TRP channel
  • TRPV1


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