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Biochem Pharmacol. 2006 Jun 14;71(12):1683-94. Epub 2006 Mar 14.

Radiolytic and cellular reduction of a novel hypoxia-activated cobalt(III) prodrug of a chloromethylbenzindoline DNA minor groove alkylator.

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Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand.


Metabolic reduction can be used to activate prodrugs in hypoxic regions of tumours, but reduction by ionising radiation is also theoretically attractive. Previously, we showed that a cobalt(III) complex containing 8-hydroxyquinoline (8-HQ) and cyclen ligands releases 8-HQ efficiently on irradiation in hypoxic solutions [Ahn G-O, Ware DC, Denny WA, Wilson WR. Optimization of the auxiliary ligand shell of cobalt(III)(8-hydroxyquinoline) complexes as model hypoxia-selective radiation-activated prodrugs. Radiat Res 2004;162:315-25]. Here we investigate an analogous Co(III) complex containing the potent DNA minor groove alkylator azachloromethylbenzindoline (azaCBI, 1) to determine whether it releases 1 on radiolytic and/or enzymatic reduction under hypoxia. Monitoring by HPLC, the azaCBI ligand in the Co(III)(cyclen)(azaCBI) complex (2) slowly hydrolysed in aqueous solution, in contrast to the free ligand 1 which readily converted to its reactive cyclopropyl form. Irradiation of 2 (30-50 microM) in hypoxic solutions released 1 with yields of 0.57 micromol/J in formate buffer and 0.13 micromol/J in human plasma. Using bioassay methods, cytotoxic activation by irradiation of 2 at 1 microM in hypoxic plasma was readily detectable at clinically relevant doses (> or = 1 Gy), with a estimated yield of 1 of 0.075 micromol/J. Release of 1 from 2 was also observed in hypoxic HT29 cultures without radiation, with subsequent conversion of 1 to its O-glucuronide. Surprisingly, overexpression of human cytochrome P450 reductase in A549 cells did not increase the rate of metabolic reduction of 2, suggesting that other reductases and/or non-enzymatic reductants are responsible. Thus the cobalt(III) complex 2 is a promising prodrug capable of being activated to release a very potent cytotoxin when reduced by either ionising radiation or cells under hypoxic conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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