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Org Biomol Chem. 2003 Dec 21;1(24):4384-91. Epub 2003 Oct 31.

Efficient synthesis of (-)- and (+)-tricyclic compounds with enone functionalities in rings A and C. A novel class of orally active anti-inflammatory and cancer chemopreventive agents.

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Department of Chemistry, Dartmouth College, 6128 Burke Laboratory, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755, USA.


Novel tricyclic compounds with enone functionalities in rings A and C [tricyclic-bis-enone (TBE) compounds] were designed on the basis of the structure of a synthetic triterpenoid, 2-cyano-3,12-dioxooleana-1,9(11)-dien-28-oic acid (CDDO)(1), which is a promising drug candidate for prevention and/or treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases whose pathogenesis may involve excessive production of nitric oxide (NO) and/or prostaglandins. A series of TBE compounds in racemic form shows high inhibitory activity against production of NO induced by interferon-[gamma](IFN-[gamma]) in mouse macrophages. One of these compounds, (+/-)-(4a[small beta],8a[small beta],10a[small alpha])-1,2,4a,6,8a,9,10,10a-octahydro-1,1,4a,8a-tetramethyl-2,6-dioxophenanthrene-3,7-dicarbonitrile ((+/-)-3), is orally active at 15 mg kg(-1)(single administration) in a preliminary study using mouse peritoneal inflammation induced by thioglycollate and IFN-[gamma]. Therefore, we desired to synthesize optically active TBE compounds for a comparison of the biological potency of both enantiomers. We now describe the synthesis of both enantiomers of (4a[small beta],8a[small beta],10a[small alpha])-1,2,4a,6,8a,9,10,10a-octahydro-1,1,4a,8a-tetramethyl-2,6-dioxophenanthrene-3-carbonitrile (2) and 3 from commercially available simple compounds. Interestingly, (+)-3 having the same configuration as the CDDO antipode shows about 10 times higher inhibitory activity than (-)-3 on NO production in mouse macrophages. In contrast, (-)-3 inhibits proliferation of MCF-7 breast cancer cells, whereas (+)-3 does not.

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