Unnarmicin D, an Anti-inflammatory Cyanobacterial Metabolite with δ and μ Opioid Binding Activity Discovered via a Pipeline Approach Designed to Target Neurotherapeutics

Document Type


Date of Original Version



To combat the bottlenecks in drug discovery and development, a pipeline to identify neuropharmacological candidates using in silico, in vitro, and receptor specific assays was devised. The focus of this pipeline was to identify metabolites with the ability to reduce neuroinflammation, due to the implications that chronic neuroinflammation has in chronic pain and neurodegenerative diseases. A library of pure compounds isolated from the cyanobacterium Trichodesmium thiebautii was evaluated using this method. In silico analysis of drug likelihood and in vitro permeability analysis using the parallel artificial membrane permeability assay (PAMPA) highlighted multiple metabolites of interest from the library. Murine BV-2 microglia were used in conjunction with the Griess assay to determine if metabolites could reduce lipopolysaccharide induced neuroinflammation followed by analysis of pro-inflammatory cytokine concentrations in the supernatant of the treated cell cultures. The nontoxic metabolite unnarmicin D was further evaluated due to its moderate permeability in the PAMPA assay, promising ADME data, modulation of all cytokines tested, and prediction as an opioid receptor ligand. Molecular modeling of unnarmicin D to the μ and δopioid receptors showed strong theoretical binding potential to the μ opioid receptor. In vitro binding assays validated this pipeline showing low micromolar binding affinity for the μ opioid receptor launching the potential for further analysis of unnarmicin D derivatives for the treatment of pain and neuroinflammation related diseases.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

ACS Chemical Neuroscience