Spiro compounds have at least two molecular rings with only one common atom. The simplest spiro compounds are bicyclic (having just two rings), or have a bicyclic portion as part of the larger ring system, in either case with the two rings connected through the defining single common atom. The one common atom connecting the participating rings distinguishes spiro compounds from other bicyclics: from isolated ring compounds like biphenyl that have no connecting atoms, from fused ring compounds like decalin having two rings linked by two adjacent atoms, and from bridged ring compounds like norbornane with two rings linked by two non-adjacent atoms. Spiro compounds may be fully carbocyclic (all carbon) or heterocyclic (having one or more non-carbon atom).
Spiro compounds are present throughout the natural world, some cases of which have been exploited to provide tool compounds for biomedical study and to serve as scaffolds for the design of therapeutic agents with novel shapes. Potential biological targets include: µ-Opioid receptor, CRTH2 receptor / TRPV1 receptor, Chemokine CCR5 / PLA2 receptor, T-type calcium channel / Bradykinin B1, NOS-2,TRPV1 receptor / Calcium channels, Muscarinic M3 receptor / V1a receptor, Aminoacyl/Phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetase, Xanthine oxidase, Nav1.7 Sodium channels.
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