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Open Med Chem J. 2007 Oct 24;1:11-23. doi: 10.2174/1874104500701010011.

Heteroarotinoids with anti-cancer activity against ovarian cancer cells.

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Department of Chemistry, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA.


The Flex-Het compound 10a (SHetA2-NSC 721689) {[4-nitrophenylamino][(2,2,4,4-tetramethylthiochroman-6-yl)amino]methane-1-thione]} has shown promise in preclinical testing as an anti-cancer agent without evidence of toxicity, skin irritancy, or teratogenicity. One objective of this study was to synthesize a series of heteroarotinoids structurally related to SHetA2 and to measure the effect of structural alterations on the cytotoxicity activities of the compounds on A2780 ovarian cancer cells. Alterations included comparisons of activity of an NO2 end group versus a CO2Et end group, a thiourea linker versus a urea linker, and a distorted, thiochroman ring unit versus a planar quinoline ring unit. Cytotoxicity assays demonstrated the thiourea linker compounds to be similar in potency to the urea linker counterparts, the NO2 substitutions were slightly more potent than the CO2Et substitutions, and replacement of the thiochroman group with a planar quinoline fused ring system markedly reduced activity. The mechanism of cytotoxicity through apoptosis was confirmed for the compounds. The optimal combination of structural features for enhancing potency consisted of a urea linker, a NO2 substitution, and a flexible thiochroman unit. Extensive H-bonding in the more active urea derivative was confirmed by X-ray and NMR analyses. This is the first example in which the biological activity of flexible, thiochroman units is compared to that of fused aryl units in a heteroarotinoid molecule.

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