Insight of Captagon Abuse by Chemogenomics Knowledgebase-guided Systems Pharmacology Target Mapping Analyses

Nan Wu, Zhiwei Feng, Xibing He, William Kwon, Junmei Wang, Xiang Qun Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Captagon, known by its genetic name Fenethylline, is an addictive drug that complicates the War on Drugs. Captagon has a strong CNS stimulating effect than its primary metabolite, Amphetamine. However, multi-targets issues associated with the drug and metabolites as well as its underlying mechanisms have not been fully defined. In the present work, we applied our established drug-abuse chemogenomics-knowledgebase systems pharmacology approach to conduct targets/off-targets mapping (SP-Targets) investigation of Captagon and its metabolites for hallucination addiction, and also analyzed the cell signaling pathways for both Amphetamine and Theophylline with data mining of available literature. Of note, Amphetamine, an agonist for trace amine-associated receptor 1 (TAAR1) with enhancing dopamine signaling (increase of irritability, aggression, etc.), is the main cause of Captagon addiction; Theophylline, an antagonist that blocks adenosine receptors (e.g. A2aR) in the brain responsible for restlessness and painlessness, may attenuate the behavioral sensitization caused by Amphetamine. We uncovered that Theophylline’s metabolism and elimination could be retarded due to competition and/or blockage of the CYP2D6 enzyme by Amphetamine; We also found that the synergies between these two metabolites cause Captagon’s psychoactive effects to act faster and far more potently than those of Amphetamine alone. We carried out further molecular docking modeling and molecular dynamics simulation to explore the molecular interactions between Amphetamine and Theophylline and their important GPCRs targets, including TAAR1 and adenosine receptors. All of the systems pharmacology analyses and results will shed light insight into a better understanding of Captagon addiction and future drug abuse prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2268
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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