A decade ago, we discovered that spirohydantoins are a novel class of aldose reductase inhibitors characterized by very potent in vivo activity. This important discovery resulted from a systematic screening effort for in vitro activity against aldose reductase isolated from bovine lens and subsequent testing of active compounds for in vivo activity in a streptozotocin-diabetic rat model, measuring inhibition of sorbitol formation in sciatic nerve. In this in vivo model, spirohydantoins were clearly more potent than all known carboxylic acid-type aldose reductase inhibitors. Structure-activity studies in the spirohydantoin class demonstrated that potent in vitro and in vivo activity were obtained when the spiro junction was adjacent to an aromatic ring and when this junction was part of a 5- or 6-membered ring system fused to the aromatic ring. Excellent in vitro and in vivo activity was achieved in 6-halogenated chromane derivatives with the spirohydantoin group attached in the 4-position. In this series, biologic activity is highly stereospecific and associated with the S configuration. Sorbinil, the S isomer of the 6-fluoro derivative in this series, is one such example: it is 30 times more potent than its R isomer in vitro (IC500.15 v 4.4 μmol/L) and 100 times more potent in vivo (ED500.25 mg/kg po v 25 mg/kg po). © 1986.
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