Salvinorin A was first described and named in 1982 by Alfredo Ortega and colleagues in Mexico. They used a combination of spectroscopy and x-ray crystallography to determine the chemical structure of the compound, which was shown to have a bicyclicditerpene structure. Around the same time, Leander Julián Valdés III independently isolated the molecule as part of his PhD research, published in 1983. Valdés named the chemical divinorin, and also isolated an analog that he named divinorin B. The naming was subsequently corrected to salvinorin A and B after the work was published in 1984. Valdés later isolated salvinorin C.
Salvinorin A is capable of inhibiting excess intestinal motility (e.g. diarrhea), through its potent κ-opioid-activating effects. The mechanism of action for salvinorin A on ileal tissue has been described as 'prejunctional', as it was able to modify electrically induced contractions, but not those of exogenousacetylcholine. A pharmacologically important aspect of the contraction-reducing properties of ingested salvinorin A on gut tissue is that it is only pharmacologically active on inflamed and not normal tissue, thus reducing possible side-effects.
Terpenoids are biosynthesized from two 5-carbon precursors, isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). The NMR and MS study by Zjawiony suggested that the biosynthesis of salvinorin A proceeds via the 1-deoxy-d-xylulose-5-phosphate pathway. In the deoxyxylulose phosphate pathway, D-glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate and pyruvate, the intermediates of the glycolysis, are converted into 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate via decarboxylation. Subsequent reduction with NADPH generates 2C-methyl-D-erythritol 2,4-cyclodiphosphate, via the intermediates 4-diphosphocytidyl-2-C-methyl-D-erythritol and 4-diphosphocytidyl-2c-methyl-d-erythritol-2-phosphate, which then lead to IPP and DMAPP.
Synthesis of IPP and DMAPP via 1-deoxy-d-xylulose-5-phosphate Pathway
Subsequent addition of three 5-carbon IPP units to a single 5-carbon DMAPP unit generates the 20-carbon central precursor, geranylgeranyl diphosphate (GGPP). Bicyclization of GGPP by the class II diterpene synthase, ent-clerodienyl diphosphate synthase (SdCPS2), produces an Iabdanyl diphosphate carbocation, which is subsequently rearranged through a sequence of 1,2-hydride and methyl shifts to form the ent-clerodienyl diphosphate intermediate.SdCPS2 catalyzes the first committed reaction in the biosynthesis of salvinorin A by producing its characteristic clerodane scaffold. A series of oxygenation, acylation and methylation reactions is then required to complete the biosynthesis of salvinorin A.
A total asymmetric synthesis of salvinorin A, which relies on a transannular Michael reaction cascade to construct the ring system, was achieved as a 4.5% overall yield over 30 steps, then revised using 24 steps to yield salvinorin A in 0.15% yield. An approach to the trans-decalin ring system of salvinorin A used an intramolecular Diels-Alder reaction/Tsuji allylation strategy, and a total synthesis of salvinorin A was achieved using the intramolecular Diels-Alder / Tsuji allylation approach, combined with an asymmetric late-stage addition of the furan moiety.
Salvinorin A is one of several structurally related salvinorins found in the Salvia divinorum plant. Salvinorin A seems to be the only naturally occurring salvinorin that is psychoactive. Salvinorin A can be synthesized from salvinorin B by acetylation, and de-acetylated salvinorin A becomes analog to salvinorin B.
Research has produced a number of semi-synthetic compounds. Most derivatives are selective kappa opioid agonists as with salvinorin A, although some are even more potent, with the most potent compound 2-ethoxymethyl salvinorin B being ten times stronger than salvinorin A. Some derivatives, such as herkinorin, reduce kappa opioid action and instead act as mu opioid agonists.
Salvinorin A is sometimes regulated together with its host, Salvia divinorum, due to its psychoactive and analgesic effects.
Salvinorin A is not scheduled at the federal level in the United States. Its molecular structure is unlike any Schedule I or II drug, so possession or sales is unlikely to be prosecuted under the Federal Analogue Act.
"Salvinorin A" is a Schedule I controlled substance in the state of Florida making it illegal to buy, sell, or possess in Florida. There is an exception however for "any drug product approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration which contains Salvinorin A or its isomers, esters, ethers, salts, and salts of isomers, esters, and ethers, if the existence of such isomers, esters, ethers, and salts is possible within the specific chemical designation."
Salvinorin A is considered a Schedule 9 prohibited substance in Australia under the Poisons Standard (October 2015). A Schedule 9 substance is a substance which may be abused or misused, the manufacture, possession, sale or use of which should be prohibited by law except when required for medical or scientific research, or for analytical, teaching or training purposes with approval of Commonwealth and/or State or Territory Health Authorities.
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