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Tamoxifen Isomers and Metabolites Exhibit Distinct Affinity and Activity at Cannabinoid Receptors: Potential Scaffold for Drug Development

Ford, BM;Franks, LN;Radominska-Pandya, A;Prather, PL;

Tamoxifen (Tam) is a selective estrogen receptor (ER) modulator (SERM) that is an essential drug to treat ER-positive breast cancer. Aside from known actions at ERs, recent studies have suggested that some SERMs like Tam also exhibit novel activity at cannabinoid subtype 1 and 2 receptors (CB1R and CB2Rs). Interestingly, cis- (E-Tam) and trans- (Z-Tam) isomers of Tam exhibit over a 100-fold difference in affinity for ERs. Therefore, the current study assessed individual isomers of Tam and subsequent cytochrome P450 metabolic products, 4-hydroxytamoxifen (4OHT) and 4-hydroxy-N-desmethyl tamoxifen (End) for affinity and activity at CBRs. Results showed that Z-4OHT, but not Z-Tam or Z-End, exhibits higher affinity for both CB1 and CB2Rs relative to the E-isomer. Furthermore, Z- and E-isomers of Tam and 4OHT show slightly higher affinity for CB2Rs, while both End isomers are relatively CB1R-selective. When functional activity was assessed by G-protein activation and regulation of the downstream effector adenylyl cyclase, all isomers examined act as full CB1 and CB2R inverse agonists. Interestingly, Z-Tam appears to be more efficacious than the full inverse agonist AM630 at CB2Rs, while both Z-Tam and Z-End exhibit characteristics of insurmountable antagonism at CB1 and CB2Rs, respectively. Collectively, these results suggest that the SERMs Tam, 4OHT and End elicit ER-independent actions via CBRs in an isomer-specific manner. As such, this novel structural scaffold might be used to develop therapeutically useful drugs for treatment of a variety of diseases mediated via CBRs.