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Anticancer Res. 2001 May-Jun;21(3B):1763-70.

Discovery of novel inducers of cellular differentiation using HL-60 promyelocytic cells.

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  • 1Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago, 60612, USA.


Non-physiological inducers of terminal differentiation have been used as novel therapies for the prevention and therapy of cancer. We have used cultured HL-60 promyelocytic cells to monitor differentiation, proliferation and cell death events as induced by a large set of extracts derived from plants. Screening of more than 1400 extracts led to the discovery of 34 with potent activity (ED50 <8 mg/ml). Bioassay-guided fractionation led to the isolation of zapotin and 2',5,6-trimethoxyflavone as active principles from Casimiroa edulis, dibenzyltrisulfide and 2-[(phenylmethyl)dithio]ethanol as active principles from Petiveria alliacea, and desmethylrocaglamide from Aglaia ponapensis. Zapotin demonstrated the most favorable biological profile in that induction of differentiation correlated with proliferation arrest, and a lack of cytotoxicity. We conclude that the HL-60 cell model is a useful system for the discovery of novel pharmacophores with potential to suppress the process of carcinogenesis, and that flavonoids may be especially useful in this capacity.

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