Aldose reductase 2 (ALR2), an activated enzyme in the polyol pathway by hyperglycemia, has long been recognized as one of the most promising targets for complications of diabetes, especially in diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). However, many of the ALR2 inhibitors have shown serious side effects due to poor selectivity over aldehyde reductase (ALR1). Herein, we describe the discovery of a series of benzothiadiazine acetic acid derivatives as potent and selective inhibitors against ALR2 and evaluation of their anti-DPN activities in vivo. Compound 15c, carrying a carbonyl group at the 3-position of the thiadiazine ring, showed high potent inhibition against ALR2 (IC50 = 33.19 nmol/L) and ∼16,109-fold selectivity for ALR2 over ALR1. Cytotoxicity assays ensured the primary biosafety of 15c. Further pharmacokinetic assay in rats indicated that 15c had a good pharmacokinetic feature (t1/2 = 5.60 h, area under the plasma concentration time curve [AUC(0-t)] = 598.57 ± 216.5 μg/mL * h), which was superior to epalrestat (t1/2 = 2.23 h, AUC[0-t] = 20.43 ± 3.7 μg/mL * h). Finally, in a streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat model, 15c significantly increased the nerve conduction velocities of impaired sensory and motor nerves, achieved potent inhibition of d-sorbitol production in the sciatic nerves, and significantly increased the paw withdrawal mechanical threshold. By combining the above investigations, we propose that 15c might represent a promising lead compound for the discovery of an antidiabetic peripheral neuropathy drug.

Article Highlights
  • Benzothiadiazine acetic acid derivatives show potent and selective inhibition against aldose reductase 2.

  • The leading compounds 15a, 15c, and 15f had low cytotoxicity on the human-derived neuroblastoma cell line SH-SY5Y and the primary dorsal root ganglion cells and had a good pharmacokinetic feature.

  • Compound 15c significantly increased the nerve conduction velocities of impaired sensory nerves, decreased the d-sorbitol level in the sciatic nerves, and increased the paw withdrawal mechanical threshold.

  • Compound 15c may serve as a potential antidiabetic peripheral neuropathy drug.

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