Phencyclidine, the prototypical arylcyclohexylamine derivative.
Phencyclidine, the prototypical arylcyclohexylamine derivative.

Arylcyclohexylamines, also known as arylcyclohexamines or arylcyclohexanamines, are a chemical class of pharmaceutical, designer, and experimental drugs.


Phencyclidine (PCP) is believed to be the first arylcyclohexylamine with recognized anesthetic properties, but several arylcyclohexylamines were described before PCP in the scientific literature, beginning with PCA (1-phenylcyclohexan-1-amine) the synthesis of which was first published in 1907. PCE was reported in 1953 and PCMo (4-(1-phenyl-cyclohexyl)-morpholine[1] see chart below for figure) in 1954, with PCMo described as a potent sedative.[2] Arylcyclohexylamine anesthetics were intensively investigated at Parke-Davis, beginning with the 1956 synthesis of phencyclidine and later the related compound ketamine.[2] The 1970s saw the debut of these compounds, especially PCP and its analogues, as illicitly used recreational drugs due to their dissociative hallucinogenic and euphoriant effects. Since that time, the class has been expanded by scientific research into stimulant, analgesic, and neuroprotective agents, and also by clandestine chemists in search of novel recreational drugs.[3][4][5]


General structure of arylcyclohexylamines
General structure of arylcyclohexylamines

An arylcyclohexylamine is composed of a cyclohexylamine unit with an aryl moiety attachment. The aryl group is positioned geminal to the amine. In the simplest cases, the aryl moiety is typically a phenyl ring, sometimes with additional substitution. The amine is usually not primary; secondary amines such as methylamino or ethylamino, or tertiary cycloalkylamines such as piperidino and pyrrolidino, are the most commonly encountered N-substituents.


Arylcyclohexylamines varyingly possess NMDA receptor antagonistic,[6][7] dopamine reuptake inhibitory,[8] and μ-opioid receptor agonistic[9] properties. Additionally, σ receptor agonistic,[10] nACh receptor antagonistic,[11] and D2 receptor agonistic[12] actions have been reported for some of these agents. Antagonism of the NMDA receptor confers anesthetic, anticonvulsant, neuroprotective, and dissociative effects; blockade of the dopamine transporter mediates stimulant and euphoriant effects as well as psychosis in high amounts; and activation of the μ-opioid receptor causes analgesic and euphoriant effects. Stimulation of the σ and D2 receptors may also contribute to hallucinogenic and psychotomimetic effects.[12]

These are versatile agents with a wide range of possible pharmacological activities depending on the extent and range to which chemical modifications are implemented.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21] The various choice of substitutions that are made allows for "fine-tuning" of the pharmacological profile that results. As examples, BTCP is a selective dopamine reuptake inhibitor,[8] PCP is primarily an NMDA antagonist,[6] and BDPC is a potent μ-opioid agonist,[22] while PRE-084 is a selective sigma receptor agonist.[23] Thus, radically different pharmacology is possible through different structural combinations.

Notes on numbering

PCP itself is composed of three six-membered rings, which can each be substituted by a variety of groups. These are traditionally numbered in the older research as first the cyclohexyl ring, then the phenyl, and finally the piperidine ring, with the different rings represented by prime notation (') next to the number. For instance, 4-methyl-PCP, 4'-methyl-PCP and 4''-methyl-PCP are all known compounds, with similar activity but quite different potencies.

4-Methyl-PCP, 4'-Methyl-PCP and 4''-Methyl-PCP (left to right)
4-Methyl-PCP, 4'-Methyl-PCP and 4''-Methyl-PCP (left to right)

However, since the widespread sale of these compounds as grey-market designer drugs, nearly all such compounds that have come to prominence either have a bare cyclohexyl ring or a 2-ketocyclohexyl ring, while the piperidine is replaced by a variety of alkyl or cycloalkyl amines and most substitution has taken place on the phenyl ring. Consequently it is common for widely used phenyl substituted analogues such as 3'-MeO-PCP and 3'-MeO-PCE to be referred to as 3-MeO-PCP and 3-MeO-PCE without the prime, even though this is technically incorrect and could lead to confusion.

List of arylcyclohexylamines

Structure Compound Aryl Substituent N Group Cyclohexyl ring CAS number
PCA structure.png
PCA[24] Phenyl NH2 - 1934-71-0
PCM structure.png
PCM[24] Phenyl Methylamino - 2201-16-3
Eticyclidine Phenyl Ethylamino - 2201-15-2
PCPr structure.png
PCPr[25] Phenyl n-Propylamino - 18949-81-0
PCiP structure.png
PCiP Phenyl Isopropylamino - 1195-42-2
PCAL structure.png
PCAL [26] Phenyl Allylamino - 2185-95-7
PCBu structure.png
PCBu Phenyl n-Butylamino - 73166-29-7
PCEOH structure.png
PCEOH Phenyl Hydroxyethylamino - 2201-22-1
PCMEA structure.png
PCMEA[27] Phenyl Methoxyethylamino - 2201-57-2
PCEEA structure.png
PCEEA Phenyl Ethoxyethylamino - 1072895-05-6
PCMPA structure.png
PCMPA Phenyl Methoxypropylamino - 2201-58-3
PCDM structure.png
PCDM[24] Phenyl Dimethylamino - 2201-17-4
Dieticyclidine Phenyl Diethylamino - 2201-19-6
2-HO-PCP structure.png
2-HO-PCP[6] Phenyl Piperidine 2-Hydroxy 94852-58-1
2-Me-PCP structure.png
2-Me-PCP[28] Phenyl Piperidine 2-Methyl 59397-29-4
2-MeO-PCP structure.png
2-MeO-PCP[29] Phenyl Piperidine 2-Methoxy 78636-34-7
O-PCP structure.png
2-Keto-PCP Phenyl Piperidine 2-Keto 101688-16-8
O-PCE structure.png
Eticyclidone ("O-PCE") Phenyl Ethylamino 2-Keto 6740-82-5
O-PCPr structure.png
2-Keto-PCPr Phenyl n-Propylamino 2-Keto
4-Me-PCP structure.png
4-Methyl-PCP Phenyl Piperidine 4-Methyl 19420-52-1
4-Keto-PCP structure.png
4-Keto-PCP[30] Phenyl Piperidine 4-Keto 65620-13-5
2'-Cl-PCP o-Chlorophenyl Piperidine - 2201-31-2
3'-Cl-PCP m-Chlorophenyl Piperidine - 2201-32-3
2'-MeO-PCP o-Methoxyphenyl Piperidine - 2201-34-5
3'-F-PCP[31] m-Fluorophenyl Piperidine - 89156-99-0
3'-Me-PCP[32] m-Tolyl Piperidine - 2201-30-1
3'-Me-PCPy m-Tolyl Pyrrolidine - 1622348-63-3
3'-NH2-PCP m-Aminophenyl Piperidine - 72242-00-3
3'-HO-PCP m-Hydroxyphenyl Piperidine - 79787-43-2
3-MeO-PCP structure.svg
3'-MeO-PCP m-Methoxyphenyl Piperidine - 72242-03-6
MDPCP structure.png
3',4'-MD-PCP 3,4-Methylenedioxyphenyl Piperidine -
3'-MeO-PCE m-Methoxyphenyl Ethylamino - 1364933-80-1
3'-HO-PCE m-Hydroxyphenyl Ethylamino -
3'-MeO-PCPr m-Methoxyphenyl n-Propylamino - 1364933-81-2
3'-HO-PCPr m-Hydroxyphenyl n-Propylamino -
MDPCPr structure.png
3',4'-MD-PCPr 3,4-Methylenedioxyphenyl n-Propylamino -
3'-MeO-PCPy[32] m-Methoxyphenyl Pyrrolidine - 1364933-79-8
4'-HO-PCP p-Hydroxyphenyl Piperidine - 66568-88-5
Methoxydine (4'-MeO-PCP) p-Methoxyphenyl Piperidine - 2201-35-6
4'-MeO-PCE p-Methoxyphenyl Ethylamino -
4'-F-PCP[31] p-Fluorophenyl Piperidine - 22904-99-0
4'-F-PCPy p-Fluorophenyl Pyrrolidine -
Arketamine structure.svg
Arketamine o-Chlorophenyl Methylamino 2-Keto 33643-49-1
Deschloroketamine Phenyl Methylamino 2-Keto 7063-30-1
Esketamine o-Chlorophenyl Methylamino 2-Keto 33643-46-8
Ketamine o-Chlorophenyl Methylamino 2-Keto 6740-88-1
(2R,6R)-Hydroxynorketamine Formula V1.svg
Hydroxynorketamine o-Chlorophenyl NH2 2-Keto, 6-Hydroxy 81395-70-2
N-Ethylnorketamine structure.png
Ethketamine o-Chlorophenyl Ethylamino 2-Keto 1354634-10-8
NPNK structure.png
NPNK o-Chlorophenyl n-Propylamino 2-Keto
Methoxyketamine o-Methoxyphenyl Methylamino 2-Keto 7063-51-6
2-MeO-NEK structure.png
2-MeO-NEK[33] o-Methoxyphenyl Ethylamino 2-Keto
OMDCK structure.png
oMDCK[34] o-Tolyl Methylamino 2-Keto 7063-37-8
MMDCK structure.png
mMDCK m-Tolyl Methylamino 2-Keto
Meta-ketamine structure.png
meta-Ketamine m-Chlorophenyl Methylamino 2-Keto 7063-53-8
Isoketamine structure.png
iso-Ketamine o-Chlorophenyl Methylamino 4-Keto
2-Fluorodeschloroketamine o-Fluorophenyl Methylamino 2-Keto 111982-50-4
3FDCK structure.png
3-Fluorodeschloroketamine m-Fluorophenyl Methylamino 2-Keto
Bromoketamine structure.png
Bromoketamine o-Bromophenyl Methylamino 2-Keto 120807-70-7
TFMDCK structure.png
TFMDCK o-Trifluoromethylphenyl Methylamino 2-Keto 1782149-73-8
SN35210 structure.png
SN 35210[35] o-Chlorophenyl Carbomethoxybutylamino 2-Keto 1450615-41-4
Methoxetamine m-Methoxyphenyl Ethylamino 2-Keto 1239943-76-0
Methoxmetamine m-Methoxyphenyl Methylamino 2-Keto 1781829-56-8
MXPr structure.png
Methoxpropamine m-Methoxyphenyl n-Propylamino 2-Keto 2504100-71-2
MXiPr structure.png
MXiPr m-Methoxyphenyl i-Propylamino 2-Keto
Ethoxetamine structure.png
Ethoxetamine m-Ethoxyphenyl Ethylamino 2-Keto
DMXE structure.svg
Deoxymethoxetamine (3-Me-2'-Oxo-PCE) m-Tolyl Ethylamino 2-Keto
Br-MXE structure.png
Br-MXE 2-bromo-5-methoxyphenyl Ethylamino 2-Keto
HXE structure.png
Hydroxetamine (HXE) m-Hydroxyphenyl Ethylamino 2-Keto 1620054-73-0
HXM structure.png
HXM m-Hydroxyphenyl Methylamino 2-Keto
FXE structure.png
Fluorexetamine (FXE) m-Fluorophenyl Ethylamino 2-Keto
Phencyclidine structure.svg
Phencyclidine (PCP) Phenyl Piperidine - 77-10-1
PC3MP structure.png
PC3MP Phenyl 3-Methylpiperidine - 2201-41-4
PC4MP structure.png
PC4MP Phenyl 4-Methylpiperidine - 2201-42-5
Rolicyclidine (PCPy) Phenyl Pyrrolidine - 2201-39-0
PCDMPy structure.png
PCDMPy Phenyl 3,3-Dimethylpyrrolidine -
PCMo structure.png
PCMo Phenyl Morpholine - 2201-40-3
Methoxy-PCM[7] (2'-MeO-PCMo) o-Methoxyphenyl Morpholine - 1314323-88-0
3'-MeO-PCMo m-Methoxyphenyl Morpholine - 138873-80-0
4'-MeO-PCMo p-Methoxyphenyl Morpholine -
Methyl-PCM[36] (4'-Me-PCMo) p-Tolyl Morpholine - 120803-52-3
Hydroxy-methyl-PCM 2-Methyl-4-hydroxyphenyl Morpholine - 1314323-89-1
PYCP structure.png
PYCP [37] 2-Pyridinyl Piperidine -
TCM structure.png
TCM 2-Thienyl Methylamino - 139401-07-3
TCE structure.png
TCE 2-Thienyl Ethylamino - 101589-62-2
TCPr structure.png
TCPr [38] 2-Thienyl Propylamino -
Tenocyclidine (TCP) 2-Thienyl Piperidine - 21500-98-1
T3CP structure.png
T3CP 3-Thienyl Piperidine - 19420-50-9
TCPy structure.png
TCPy 2-Thienyl Pyrrolidine - 22912-13-6
Tiletamine 2-Thienyl Ethylamino 2-Keto 14176-49-9
MXTE structure.png
MXTE 4-Methoxy-2-thienyl Ethylamino 2-Keto
Gacyclidine 2-Thienyl Piperidine 2-Methyl 68134-81-6
Bromadol Skeletal.png
BDPC p-Bromophenyl Dimethylamino 4-Phenethyl-4-hydroxy 77239-98-6
C-8813 p-Bromophenyl Dimethylamino 4-(thiophen-2-yl)ethyl-4-hydroxy 616898-54-5
Dimetamine structure.png
Dimetamine[39] p-Tolyl Dimethylamino 4-Keto 65619-06-9
Ahmadi pcp 2010.svg
3''-OH-2'-Me-PCP [40] o-Tolyl 3-Hydroxypiperidine -
1-(1-PhCHX)-4-Ph-4-OH-piperidine structure.png
4''-Ph-4''-OH-PCP [41] Phenyl 4-Phenyl-4-hydroxypiperidine - 77179-39-6
BTCP structure.png
BTCP[42] Benzothiophen-2-yl Piperidine - 112726-66-6
BTCPy structure.png
BTCPy[10] Benzothiophen-2-yl Pyrrolidine -
GK-189 structure.png
GK-189[43] Naphthalen-2-yl Piperidine - 81490-58-6

Related compounds

Other similar compounds exist where the base ring has been varied, or the amine chain replaced with other groups.[44] More cycloalkane ring sizes have been experimented with than just purely thinking in terms of the cyclohexylamine. The cyclopentyl homologue of PCP is active with around 1/10th the potency,[45] while the cycloheptyl and cyclooctyl derivatives are inactive, though some substituted arylcycloheptylamines retain activity.[46] The requisite cycloalkylketone is reacted with PhMgBr; 3° alcohol is then reacted with NaN3; azide then reduced with LAH. Then in the final step the piperidine ring is constructed with 1-5-dibromo-pentane.[47] Other compounds are known where the cyclohexyl base ring is replaced by rings such as norbornyl, adamantyl,[48] tetralin, oxane or piperidine.[49] Conformationally constrained analogs have been prepared and researched by Morieti et al.[50]

Structure Compound Aryl Substituent N Group Base ring CAS number
PCPEP structure.png
PCPEP Phenyl Piperidine Cyclopentyl 23036-19-3
3F-PCHEPy structure.png
3F-PCHEPy 3-Fluorophenyl Pyrrolidine Cycloheptyl
3-MeO-PBCHP structure.png
3-MeO-PBCHP 3-Methoxyphenyl Piperidine Bicyclo[2.2.1]heptane
PADP structure.png
PADP Phenyl Piperidine Adamantyl 72241-99-7
Ahmadi 2010.svg
3-MeO-PTP 3-Methoxyphenyl Piperidine Tetralin
HHFA structure.png
HHFA Fused phenyl Amino Hexahydrofluorene
DHPQ structure.png
DHPQ Phenyl Decahydroquinoline
POXP structure.png
POXP Phenyl Piperidine Oxane
MPBPip structure.png
MPBPip Phenyl Piperidine N-Methylpiperidine 36882-04-9
BnCP structure.png
BnCP Benzyl Piperidine Cyclohexyl 22912-07-8
YNCP structure.png
YNCP Ethynyl Piperidine Cyclohexyl 51165-02-7
ALCP structure.png
ALCP Allyl Piperidine Cyclohexyl 7418-80-6
Piritramide Replaced by carboxamide Piperidine N-(3-cyano-3,3-diphenylpropyl)piperidine 302-41-0
PRE-084 SVG file.svg
PRE-084 Phenyl Morpholinylethylcarboxylate Cyclohexyl 138847-85-5
Clofenciclan Structural Formulae.png
Clofenciclan p-Chlorophenyl Diethylaminoethoxy Cyclohexyl 5632-52-0


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Further reading

  • Morris H, Wallach J (2014). "From PCP to MXE: a comprehensive review of the non-medical use of dissociative drugs". Drug Testing and Analysis. 6 (7–8): 614–32. doi:10.1002/dta.1620. PMID 24678061.