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Discovery of a Novel ASM Direct Inhibitor with a 1,5-Diphenyl-pyrazole Scaffold and Its Antidepressant Mechanism of Action.

Multiple studies have confirmed that acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) activity is associated with depression. The discovery of direct inhibitors against ASM is of great significance for exploring antidepressants and their mechanisms of action. Herein, a series of novel phenylpyrazole analogues were rationally designed and synthesized. Among them, compound 46 exhibited potent inhibitory activity (IC50 = 0.87 μM) and good drug-like properties. In vivo studies demonstrated that compound 46 was involved in multiple antidepressant mechanisms of action, which were associated with a decline of ceramide, including increasing the Bcl-2/Bax ratio and BDNF expression, down-regulating caspase-3 and caspase-9, ameliorating oxidative stress, reducing the levels of proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6, and elevating 5-HT levels in the brains of mice, respectively. These meaningful results reveal for the first time that direct inhibitors exhibit remarkable antidepressant effects in the CUMS-induced mouse model through multiple mechanisms of antidepressant action.

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