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Activated macrophages overexpress the folate receptor β (FR-β) that can be used for targeted delivery of drugs conjugated to folic acid. FR-expressing macrophages contribute to arthritis progression by secreting prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) block PGs and thromboxane by inhibiting the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes and are used for chronic pain and inflammation despite their well-known toxicity. New NSAIDs target an enzyme downstream of COXs, microsomal prostaglandin E synthase-1 (mPGES-1). Inhibition of mPGES-1 in inflammatory macrophages promises to retain NSAID efficacy while limiting toxicity. We conjugated a potent mPGES-1 inhibitor, MK-7285, to folate, but the construct released the drug inefficiently. Folate conjugation to the primary alcohol of MK-7285 improved the construct's stability and the release of free drug. Surprisingly, the drug-folate conjugate potentiated PGE2 in FR-positive KB cells, and reduced PGE2 in macrophages independently of the FR. Folate conjugation of NSAIDs is not an optimal strategy for targeting of macrophages. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Liudmila L Mazaleuskaya, Seokwoo Lee, Hu Meng, Jeffrey D Winkler, Garret A FitzGerald. Targeted delivery of mPGES-1 inhibitors to macrophages via the folate receptor-β for inflammatory pain. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry letters. 2021 Oct 15;50:128313

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PMID: 34390827

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