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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2005 Jun;96(1):51-8.

Structure-activity relationships of 2-, 4-, or 6-substituted estrogens as aromatase inhibitors.

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  • 1Tohoku Pharmaceutical University, 4-1 Komatsushima-4-chome, Aobaku, Sendai 981-8558, Japan.


Aromatase, which is responsible for the conversion of androgens to estrogens, is a potential therapeutic target for the selective lowering of estrogen levels in patients with estrogen-dependent breast cancer. To develop a novel class of aromatase inhibitors, we tested series of 2- and 4-substituted (halogeno, methyl, formyl, methoxy, nitro, and amino) estrones (7 and 9), as well as series of 6alpha- and 6beta-substituted (alkyl, phenalkyl, and alkoxy) estrones (13 and 14), and their estradiol analogs (8, 10, 11, and 12) as aromatase inhibitors. All of the inhibitors examined blocked the androstenedione aromatization in a competitive manner. Introduction of halogeno and methyl functions at C-2 of estrone as well as that of a phenalkyl or methyl function at the C-6alpha or C-6beta position markedly increased affinity to aromatase (apparent K(i) value=0.10-0.66 microM for the inhibitors versus 2.5 microM for estrone). 6alpha-Phenylestrone (13c) was the most powerful inhibitor among the estrogens studied, and its affinity was comparable to that of the androgen substrate androstenedione. Estradiol analogs were much weaker inhibitors than the corresponding estrone compounds in each series, indicating that the 17-carbonyl group plays a critical role in the formation of a thermodynamically stable enzyme-inhibitor complex.

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