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J Med Chem. 2011 Jun 23;54(12):4057-66. doi: 10.1021/jm200028h. Epub 2011 May 26.

Akt-dependent anabolic activity of natural and synthetic brassinosteroids in rat skeletal muscle cells.

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Biotech Center, SEBS, Rutgers University, 59 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901, United States.


Brassinosteroids are plant-derived polyhydroxylated derivatives of 5α-cholestane, structurally similar to cholesterol-derived animal steroid hormones and insect ecdysteroids. In this study, we synthesized a set of brassinosteroid analogues of a natural brassinosteroid (22S,23S)-homobrassinolide (HB, 1), including (22S,23S)-homocastasterone (2), (22S,23S)-3α-fluoro-homobrasinolide (3), (22S,23S)-3α-fluoro-homocastasterone (4), (22S,23S)-7-aza-homobrassinolide (5), and (22S,23S)-6-aza-homobrassinolide (6) and studied their anabolic efficacy in the L6 rat skeletal muscle cells in comparison to other synthetic and naturally occurring brassinosteroids (22R,23R)-homobrassinolide (7), (22S,23S)-epibrassinolide (8), and (22R,23R)-epibrassinolide (9). Presence of the 6-keto group in the B ring and stereochemistry of 22α,23α-vicinal hydroxyl groups in the side chain were critical for the anabolic activity, possibly due to higher cytotoxicity of the 22β,23β-hydroxylated brassinosteroids. All anabolic brassinosteroids tested in this study selectively activated PI3K/Akt signaling pathway as evident by increased Akt phosphorylation in vitro. Plant brassinosteroids and their synthetic derivatives may offer a novel therapeutic strategy for promoting growth, repair, and maintenance of skeletal muscles.

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