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J Med Chem. 2012 Jan 12;55(1):233-49. doi: 10.1021/jm2011436. Epub 2011 Dec 2.

Analogues of orphan nuclear receptor small heterodimer partner ligand and apoptosis inducer (E)-4-[3-(1-adamantyl)-4-hydroxyphenyl]-3-chlorocinnamic acid. 2. Impact of 3-chloro group replacement on inhibition of proliferation and induction of apoptosis of leukemia and cancer cell lines.

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Cancer Center, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, United States.


The parent phenol of adapalene and its (E)-cinnamic acid analogue were found to induce cancer cell apoptosis but cause adverse systemic effects when administered to mice. In contrast, their respective 5-Cl- and 3-Cl-substituted analogues had their adverse effects mitigated without a comparable loss of cancer cell inhibitory activity. As a result, pharmacologic space in this region of the cinnamic phenyl ring scaffold was explored. Various substituents were introduced, and their effects on cancer cell proliferation and viability were evaluated. Cinnamic acids having 3-Br, CN, NO(2), NH(2), OMe, and N(3) groups had activity comparable to that of 4-[3'-(1-adamantyl)-4'-hydroxyphenyl]-3-chlorocinnamic acid. A comparative molecular field analysis study indicated that introduction of an H-bond acceptor at position 3 of the central phenyl ring would favor inhibition of leukemia cell viability, and docking suggested its hydrogen bonding with a polar group in a small heterodimer partner homology model. The 3-CN, NO(2), NH(2), and OH analogues also inhibited MMTV-Wnt1 murine mammary stem cell viability.

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