Activity-based protein profiling reveals off-target proteins of the FAAH inhibitor BIA 10-2474

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Science  09 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6342, pp. 1084-1087
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf7497

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A clue to a drug's neurotoxicity?

The drug BIA 10-2474 inhibits fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), a lipase that degrades a specific endocannabinoid. On the basis of this activity, BIA 10-2474 was being developed as a potential treatment for anxiety and pain. In a phase 1 trial of the drug, one subject died, and four others suffered brain damage. As an initial step in investigating whether inhibition of off-target proteins by BIA 10-2474 might contribute to its clinical neurotoxicity, van Esbroeck et al. used activity-based proteomic assays to identify proteins targeted by the drug. Studying human cells and brain samples from subjects not associated with the trial, they found that BIA 10-2474 targeted several different lipases in addition to FAAH. It also substantially altered lipid metabolism in cultured neurons.

Science, this issue p. 1084


A recent phase 1 trial of the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) inhibitor BIA 10-2474 led to the death of one volunteer and produced mild-to-severe neurological symptoms in four others. Although the cause of the clinical neurotoxicity is unknown, it has been postulated, given the clinical safety profile of other tested FAAH inhibitors, that off-target activities of BIA 10-2474 may have played a role. Here we use activity-based proteomic methods to determine the protein interaction landscape of BIA 10-2474 in human cells and tissues. This analysis revealed that the drug inhibits several lipases that are not targeted by PF04457845, a highly selective and clinically tested FAAH inhibitor. BIA 10-2474, but not PF04457845, produced substantial alterations in lipid networks in human cortical neurons, suggesting that promiscuous lipase inhibitors have the potential to cause metabolic dysregulation in the nervous system.

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