A Template-Based Approach for Guiding and Refining the Development of Cinnamon-Based Phenylpropanoids as Drugs
Structure-activity relationships describe the relationship between chemical structure and biologic activity and are capable of informing deliberate structural modifications to a molecule in order enhance drug properties. Methods: Here, we present a subtle, yet unique twist on structure-activity relationships in which a collective biologic activity was measured among five cinnamon constituents with a shared phenylpropanoid template (cinnamic acid, cinnamaldehyde, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid,
... nd ferulic acid). This template-based approach utilized publicly available transcriptomic data through the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) to identify a fundamental biologic effect; in essence, a phenylpropanoid template effect. Results: The recurrent identification of cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction and neuroactive ligand receptor pathways in each individual treatment condition strongly supports the fact that changes in gene expression within these pathways is a hallmark of the phenylpropanoid template. With a template effect identified, future structural modifications can be performed in order to overcome pharmacokinetic barriers to clinical use (i.e., traditional structure-activity relationship experiments). Moreover, these modifications can be implemented with a high degree of confidence knowing that a consistent and robust template effect is likely to persist. Conclusion: We believe this template-based approach offers researchers an attractive and cost-effective means for evaluating multicomponent natural products during drug development.