In vitro characterization of the pyrazole-carrying synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist 5F-3,5-AB-PFUPPYCA and its structural analogs

Marie H. Deventer, Caitlyn Norman, Robert Reid, Craig McKenzie, Niamh Nic Daeid, Christophe P. Stove (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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The synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist (SCRA) market is undergoing important changes since the enactment of the 2021 class-wide generic SCRA ban in China, one of the most important source countries for new psychoactive substances (NPS). Recently, various compounds with new structural features, synthesized to bypass this legislation, have entered the recreational drug market. Certain monocyclic pyrazole-carrying “FUPPYCA” SCRAs have been sporadically detected since 2015 without gaining further popularity. However, as evidenced by their recent detection in Scottish prisons, 5F-3,5-AB-PFUPPYCA and 3,5-ADB-4en-PFUPPYCA have re-emerged, potentially triggered by the new legislative ban. The aim of this study was to characterize the in vitro intrinsic CB1 and CB2 receptor activation potential of 5F-3,5-AB-PFUPPYCA and 3,5-ADB-4en-PFUPPYCA, as well as 4 analogs (5F-3,5-ADB-PFUPPYCA, 3,5-AB-CHMFUPPYCA, 5,3-AB-CHMFUPPYCA and 5,3-ADB-4en-PFUPPYCA) using live cell β-arrestin 2 recruitment assays. Most analogs were essentially inactive at either CB1 or CB2, with only 3,5-AB-CHMFUPPYCA, 5,3-AB-CHMFUPPYCA and 5,3-ADB-4en-PFUPPYCA showing a limited activation potential at CB1. Furthermore, the importance of the position of the tail structure was demonstrated, with 5,3-regioisomers being more active than their 3,5-analogs. Moreover, all compounds exhibited antagonistic behavior at both receptors, which may be associated with their structural resemblance to cannabinoid antagonists and inverse agonists. Although the 3,5-regioisomers of these “FUPPYCA” SCRAs circumvent the Chinese ban, it is unlikely that these SCRAs will pose a major threat to public health, given the lack of pronounced CB receptor activity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number111565
Number of pages7
JournalForensic Science International
Early online date10 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • Bioassay
  • CB1 cannabinoid receptor
  • New psychoactive substances
  • Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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