Chlorphenamine (also known as chlorpheniramine, CP, or CPM) is a first-generation antihistamine used in the prevention of the symptoms of allergic conditions such as rhinitis and urticaria. Its sedative effects are relatively weak compared to other first-generation antihistamines. Chlorphenamine is one of the most commonly used antihistamines in small-animal veterinary practice. Although not generally approved as an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication, chlorphenamine appears to have these properties as well.
Chlorphenamine is often combined with phenylpropanolamine to form an allergy medication with both antihistamine and decongestant properties, though phenylpropanolamine is no longer available in the US after studies showed it increased the risk of stroke in young women. Chlorphenamine remains available with no such risk. Brand names had included Demazin, Allerest 12 Hour, Codral Nighttime, Chlornade, Contac 12 Hour, Exchange Select Allergy Multi-Symptom, A. R. M. Allergy Relief, Ordrine, Ornade Spansules, Teldrin, Triaminic, and Tylenol Cold/Allergy.
Chlorphenamine is combined with a narcotic (hydrocodone) in the product Tussionex, which is indicated for treatment of cough and upper respiratory symptoms associated with allergy or cold in adults and children 6 years of age and older. This combination is manufactured as a time-released formula, which allows for administration every 12 hours, versus the more common 4-to-6-hour regimen for other narcotic cough suppressants.
Chlorphenamine/dihydrocodeine immediate-release syrups are also marketed. The antihistamine is helpful in cases where allergy or common cold is the reason for the cough; it is also a potentiator of opioids, allowing enhanced suppression of cough, analgesia, and other effects from a given quantity of the drug by itself. In various places in the world, cough & cold preparations containing codeine and chlorphenamine are available.
In the drug Coricidin, chlorphenamine is combined with the cough suppressant dextromethorphan.
The adverse effects include drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, constipation, anxiety, nausea, blurred vision, restlessness, decreased coordination, dry mouth, shallow breathing, hallucinations, irritability, problems with memory or concentration, tinnitus and trouble urinating.
A large study linked the development of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia to the use of chlorphenamine and other first-generation antihistamines, due to their anticholinergic properties.
Chlorphenamine acts primarily as a potent antihistamine. It is specifically a potent inverse agonist of the histamine H1 receptor. The drug is also commonly described as possessing weak anticholinergic activity by acting as an antagonist of the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. The dextrorotatory stereoisomer, dexchlorpheniramine, has been reported to possess Kd values of 15 nM for the H1 receptor and 1,300 nM for the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in human brain tissue.
In addition to being a histamine H1 receptor antagonist, chlorphenamine has been found to act as a potent serotonin reuptake inhibitor (Kd = 15.2 nM for the serotonin transporter). It has only weak affinity for the norepinephrine and dopamine transporters (Kd = 1,440 nM and 1,060 nM, respectively). A similar antihistamine, brompheniramine, led to the discovery of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) zimelidine. Limited clinical evidence shows that chlorphenamine is comparable to several antidepressant medications in its ability to inhibit the reuptake of serotonin and may be useful in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders.
A study found that dexchlorphenamine had Ki values for the human cloned H1 receptor of 2.67 to 4.81 nM while levchlorphenamine had Ki values of 211 to 361 nM for this receptor, indicating that dexchlorphenamine is the active enantiomer. Another study found that dexchlorphenamine had a Ki value of 20 to 30 µM for the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor using rat brain tissue while levchlorphenamine had a Ki value of 40 to 50 µM for this receptor, indicating that both enantiomers have very low affinity for it.
The elimination half-life of chlorphenamine has variously ranged between 13.9 and 43.4 hours in adults following a single dose in clinical studies.
Chlorphenamine is an alkylamine and is a part of a series of antihistamines including pheniramine (Naphcon) and its halogenated derivatives including fluorpheniramine, dexchlorphenamine (Polaramine), brompheniramine (Dimetapp), dexbrompheniramine (Drixoral), deschlorpheniramine, and iodopheniramine. The halogenated alkylamine antihistamines all exhibit optical isomerism, and chlorphenamine in the indicated products is racemic chlorphenamine maleate, whereas dexchlorphenamine is the dextrorotary stereoisomer.
There are several patented methods for the synthesis of chlorphenamine. In one example, 4-chlorophenylacetonitrile is reacted with 2-chloropyridine in the presence of sodium amide to form 4-chlorophenyl(2-pyridyl)acetonitrile. Alkylating this with 2-dimethylaminoethylchloride in the presence of sodium amide gives γ-(4-chlorphenyl)-γ-cyano-N,N-dimethyl-2-pyridinepropanamine, the hydrolysis and decarboxylation of which lead to chlorphenamine.
A second method starts from pyridine, which undergoes alkylation by 4-chlorophenylacetonitrile, giving 2-(4-chlorobenzyl)pyridine. Alkylating this with 2-dimethylaminoethylchloride in the presence of sodium amide gives chlorphenamine.
Chlorphenamine is the INN while chlorpheniramine is the USAN and former BAN.