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Br J Pharmacol. 2003 Sep;140(2):402-12. Epub 2003 Aug 26.

MX1013, a dipeptide caspase inhibitor with potent in vivo antiapoptotic activity.

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Cytovia, Inc. (a subsidiary of Maxim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), 6650 Nancy Ridge Drive, San Diego, CA 92121, U.S.A.


1. Caspases play a critical role in apoptosis, and are considered to be key targets for the design of cytoprotective drugs. As part of our antiapoptotic drug-discovery effort, we have synthesized and characterized Z-VD-fmk, MX1013, as a potent, irreversible dipeptide caspase inhibitor. 2. MX1013 inhibits caspases 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, and 9, with IC50 values ranging from 5 to 20 nm. MX1013 is selective for caspases, and is a poor inhibitor of noncaspase proteases, such as cathepsin B, calpain I, or Factor Xa (IC50 values >10 microm). 3. In several cell culture models of apoptosis, including caspase 3 processing, PARP cleavage, and DNA fragmentation, MX1013 is more active than tetrapeptide- and tripeptide-based caspase inhibitors, and blocked apoptosis at concentrations as low as 0.5 microm. 4. MX1013 is more aqueous soluble than tripeptide-based caspase inhibitors such as Z-VAD-fmk. 5. At a dose of 1 mg kg-1 i.v., MX1013 prevented liver damage and the lethality caused by Fas death receptor activation in the anti-Fas mouse-liver apoptosis model, a widely used model of liver failure. 6. At a dose of 20 mg kg-1 (i.v. bolus) followed by i.v. infusion for 6 or 12 h, MX1013 reduced cortical damage by approximately 50% in a model of brain ischemia/reperfusion injury. 7. At a dose of 20 mg kg-1 (i.v. bolus) followed by i.v. infusion for 12 h, MX1013 reduced heart damage by approximately 50% in a model of acute myocardial infarction. 8. Based on these studies, we conclude that MX1013, a dipeptide pan-caspase inhibitor, has a good combination of in vitro and in vivo properties. It has the ability to protect cells from a variety of apoptotic insults, and is systemically active in three animal models of apoptosis, including brain ischemia.

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