Insightful Backbone Modifications Preventing Proteolytic Degradation of Neurotensin Analogs Improve NTS1-Induced Protective Hypothermia. IF(2019) 4,204

Santo Previti, Melanie Vivancoe, Emmanuelle Remand, Sabrina Beaulieu, Jean-Michel Longpre, Steven Ballet, Philippe Sarret, Florine Cavelier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


Therapeutic hypothermia represents a brain-protective strategy for multiple emergency situations, such as stroke or traumatic injury. Neurotensin (NT), which exerts its effects through activation of two G protein-coupled receptors, namely NTS1 and NTS2, induces a strong and long-lasting decrease in core body temperature after its central administration. Growing evidence demonstrates that NTS1 is the receptor subtype mediating the hypothermic action of NT. As such, potent NTS1 agonists designed on the basis of the minimal C-terminal NT(8-13) bioactive fragment have been shown to produce mild hypothermia and exert neuroprotective effects under various clinically relevant conditions. The high susceptibility of NT(8-13) to protease degradation (half-life <2 min) represents, however, a serious limitation for its use in pharmacological therapy. In light of this, we report here a structure-activity relationship study in which pairs of NT(8-13) analogs have been developed, based on the incorporation of a reduced Lys 8-Lys 9 bond. To further stabilize the peptide bonds, a panel of backbone modifications was also inserted along the peptide sequence, including Sip 10, D-Trp 11, Dmt 11, Tle 12, and TMSAla 13. Our results revealed that the combination of appropriate chemical modifications leads to compounds exhibiting improved resistance to proteolytic cleavages (>24 h; 16). Among them, the NT(8-13) analogs harboring the reduced amine bond combined with the unnatural amino acids TMSAla 13 (4) and Sip 10 (6) or the di-substitution Lys 11 - TMSAla 13 (12), D-Trp 11-TMSAla 13 (14), and Dmt 11-Tle 12 (16) produced sustained hypothermic effects (−3°C for at least 1 h). Importantly, we observed that hypothermia was mainly driven by the increased stability of the NT(8-13) derivatives, instead of the high binding-affinity at NTS1. Altogether, these results reveal the importance of the reduced amine bond in optimizing the metabolic properties of the NT(8-13) peptide and support the development of stable NTS1 agonists as first drug candidate in neuroprotective hypothermia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number406
Pages (from-to)406
JournalFrontiers in Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2020


  • NTS1
  • reduced peptide bonds
  • unnatural amino acids
  • proteolytic stability
  • hypothermia

Cite this