In vitro cannabinoid activity profiling of generic ban-evading brominated synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists and their analogs

Marie H. Deventer, Mattias Persson, Caitlyn Norman, Huiling Liu, Matthew J. Connolly, Niamh Nic Daéid, Craig McKenzie, Henrik Gréen, Christophe P. Stove (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Following the enactment of a generic ban in China in 2021, the synthetic cannabinoid market has been evolving, now encompassing even wider structural diversity. Compounds carrying a brominated core such as ADB-5'Br-BUTINACA (ADMB-B-5Br-INACA) and tail-less analogs, such as ADB-5'Br-INACA (ADMB-5Br-INACA), MDMB-5'Br-INACA, and ADB-INACA (ADMB-INACA), have been detected since late 2021. This study investigated the cannabinoid receptor (CB) activation potential of synthesized (S)-enantiomers of these substances, as well as of two predicted analogs MDMB-5'Br-BUTINACA (MDMB-B-5Br-INACA) and ADB-5'F-BUTINACA (ADMB-B-5F-INACA), using CB1 and CB2 β-arrestin 2 recruitment assays and a CB1 intracellular calcium release assay. Surprisingly, the tail-less (S)-ADB-5'Br-INACA and (S)-MDMB-5'Br-INACA retained CB activity, albeit with a decreased potency compared to their tailed counterparts (S)-ADB-5'Br-BUTINACA and (S)-MDMB-5'Br-BUTINACA, respectively, which were potent and efficacious CB1 agonists. Also, at CB2 , tail-less analogs showed a lower potency but increased efficacy. Removing the bromine substitution ((S)-ADB-INACA) resulted in a reduced activity at CB1 ; however, this effect was less prominent at CB2 . Looking at tailed analogs, replacing the bromine with a fluorine substitution ((S)-ADB-5'F-BUTINACA) resulted in an increased potency and efficacy at both receptors. Furthermore, as ADB-5'Br-INACA and MDMB-5'Br-INACA have been frequently detected together in Scottish prisons, this study also evaluated the CB1 receptor activation potential of different mixtures of their respective reference standards, showing no unexpected cannabimimetic effect of combining both substances. Lastly, two powders seized by Belgian Customs and confirmed to contain ADB-5'Br-INACA and MDMB-5'Br-INACA, respectively, were assessed for CB activity. Based on the comparison with their reference standards, varying degrees of purity were suspected.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalDrug Testing and Analysis
Early online date30 Oct 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Oct 2023


  • CB1 cannabinoid receptor
  • brominated synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical Science


Dive into the research topics of 'In vitro cannabinoid activity profiling of generic ban-evading brominated synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists and their analogs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this