Betulinic acid (BA) is a lupane-type pentacyclic triterpene, distributed ubiquitously throughout the plant kingdom. BA and its derivatives demonstrate multiple bioactivities, particularly an antitumor effect. This review critically describes the recent research on isolation, synthesis, and derivatization of BA and its natural analogs betulin and 23-hydroxybetulinic acid. The subsequent part of the review focuses on the current knowledge of antitumor properties, combination treatments, and pharmacological mechanisms of these compounds. A 3D-QSAR analysis of 62 BA derivatives against human ovarian cancer A2780 is also included to provide information concerning the structure-cytotoxicity relationships of these compounds.
23-O-(1,4'-Bipiperidine-1-carbonyl)betulinic acid (BBA), a synthetic derivative of 23-hydroxybetulinic acid (23-HBA), shows a reversal effect on multidrug resistance (MDR) in our preliminary screening. Overexpression of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters such as ABCB1, ABCG2, and ABCC1 has been reported in recent studies to be a major factor contributing to MDR. Our study results showed that BBA enhanced the cytotoxicity of ABCB1 substrates and increased the accumulation of doxorubicin or rhodamine123 in ABCB1 overexpressing cells, but had no effect on non ABCB1 substrate, such as cisplatin; what's more, BBA slightly reversed ABCG2-mediated resistance to SN-38, but did not affect the ABCC1-mediated MDR. Further studies on the mechanism indicated that BBA did not alter the expression of ABCB1 at mRNA or protein levels, but affected the ABCB1 ATPase activity by stimulating the basal activity at lower concentrations and inhibiting the activity at higher concentrations. In addition, BBA inhibited the verapamil-stimulated ABCB1 ATPase activity and the photolabeling of ABCB1 with [(125)I] iodoarylazidoprazosin in a concentration-dependent manner, indicating that BBA directly interacts with ABCB1. The docking study confirmed this notion that BBA could bind to the drug binding site(s) on ABCB1, but its binding position was only partially overlapping with that of verapamil or iodoarylazidoprazosin. Importantly, BBA increased the inhibitory effect of paclitaxel in ABCB1 overexpressing KB-C2 cell xenografts in nude mice. Taken together, our findings suggest that BBA can reverse ABCB1-mediated MDR by inhibiting its efflux function of ABCB1, which supports the development of BBA as a novel potential MDR reversal agent used in the clinic.
ClC-3 chloride (Cl(-)) channel has been shown to be involved in cell proliferation, cell cycle, and cell migration processes. Herein, we found that a series of bufadienolides isolated from toad venom were a novel class of ClC-3 Cl(-) channel activators with antitumor activities. Bufalin, which has the most potent antitumor activity, and 15β-acetyloxybufalin, which has no antitumor activity, were chosen as representative compounds to investigate the role of the ClC-3 Cl(-) channel. It was found that bufalin rapidly elicited activation of the ClC-3 Cl(-) channel and subsequently induced apoptosis through inhibition of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway. The PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway was attenuated by pretreatment with Cl(-) channel blockers [tamoxifen and 5-nitro-2-(3-phenylpropylamino)benzoic acid, NPPB] or ClC-3 small interfereing RNA. In summary, we discovered that activation of the ClC-3 Cl(-) channel, which subsequently induced inhibition of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway, was involved in the antitumor activities of bufadienolides.
Betulinic acid (BA) and its derivatives are a class of high-profile drug candidates, but their anticancer effects on resistant cancer have rarely been reported. Although a few studies indicated mitophagy is related with drug resistance, its role in different cancer types and anticancer agents treatment remains largely unclear. Here, we find that B5G1, a new derivative of BA, induces cell death in multidrug resistant cancer cells HepG2/ADM and MCF-7/ADR through mitochondrial-apoptosis pathway. B5G1 also triggers mitophagy independent on Atg5/Beclin 1. Further mechanistic study indicates that B5G1 upregulates PTEN-induced putative kinase 1 (PINK1) to recruit Parkin to mitochondria followed by ubiquitination of Mfn2 to initiate mitophagy. Inhibition of mitophagy by PINK1 siRNA, mdivi-1, or bafilomycin A1 (Baf A1) promotes B5G1-induced cell death. In addition, ROS production and mitochondrial damage in B5G1-treated HepG2/ADM cells cause mitochondrial apoptosis and mitophagy. In vivo study shown that B5G1 dramatically inhibits HepG2/ADM xenograft growth accompanied by apoptosis and mitophagy induction. Together, our results provide the first demonstration that B5G1, as a novel mitophagy inducer, has the potential to be developed into a drug candidate for treating multidrug resistant cancer.
Arenobufagin, a representative bufadienolide, is the major active component in the traditional Chinese medicine Chan'su. It possesses significant antineoplastic activity in vitro. Although bufadienolide has been found to disrupt the cell cycle, the underlying mechanisms of this disruption are not defined. Here, we reported that arenobufagin blocked the transition from G2 to M phase of cell cycle through inhibiting the activation of CDK1-Cyclin B1 complex; The tumor suppressor p53 contributed to sustaining arrest at the G2 phase of the cell cycle in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells. Moreover, arenobufagin caused double-strand DNA breaks (DSBs) and triggered the DNA damage response (DDR), partly via the ATM/ATR-Chk1/Chk2-Cdc25C signaling pathway. Importantly, we used a synthetic biotinylated arenobufagin-conjugated chemical probe in live cells to show that arenobufagin accumulated mainly in the nucleus. The microscopic thermodynamic parameters measured using isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) also demonstrated that arenobufagin directly bound to DNA in vitro. The hypochromicity in the UV-visible absorption spectrum, the significant changes in the circular dichroism (CD) spectrum of DNA, and the distinct quenching in the fluorescence intensity of the ethidium bromide (EB)-DNA system before and after arenobufagin treatment indicated that arenobufagin bound to DNA in vitro by intercalation. Molecular modeling suggested arenobufagin intercalated with DNA via hydrogen bonds between arenobufagin and GT base pairs. Collectively, these data provide novel insights into arenobufagin-induced cell cycle disruption that are valuable for the further discussion and investigation of the use of arenobufagin in clinical anticancer chemotherapy.
Cajaninstilbene acid (CSA) is one of the active components isolated from pigeon pea leaves. In this study, anti-inflammatory effects of CSA and its synthesized derivatives were fully valued with regard to their activities on the production of nitric oxide (NO) and pro-inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in vitro cell model, as well as their impacts on the migration of neutrophils and macrophages in fluorescent protein labeled zebrafish larvae model by live image analysis. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory mechanism of this type of compounds was clarified by western-blot and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The results showed that CSA, as well as its synthesized derivatives 5c, 5e and 5h, exhibited strong inhibition activity on the release of NO and inflammatory factor TNF-α and IL-6 in lipopolysaccharides (LPS)-stimulated murine macrophages. CSA and 5c greatly inhibited the migration of neutrophils and macrophages in injury zebrafish larvae. CSA and 5c treatment greatly inhibited the phosphorylation of proteins involved in nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways. Moreover, we found that peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) inhibitor GW9662 could reverse partly the roles of CSA and 5c, and CSA and 5c treatment greatly resist the decrease of PPARγ mRNA and protein induced by LPS stimulation. Our results identified the promising anti-inflammatory effects of CSA and its derivatives, which may serve as valuable anti-inflammatory lead compound. Additionally, the mechanism studies demonstrated that the anti-inflammatory activity of CSA and its derivative is associated with the inhibition of NF-κB and MAPK pathways, relying partly on resisting the LPS-induced decrease of PPARγ through improving its expression.
2-Heptyl-3-hydroxy-4(1H)-quinolone (PQS), a compound from P. aeruginosa, functions as both a quorum sensing (QS) regulator and a potent iron chelator to induce expression of pyoverdine and pyochelin which are involved in high-affinity iron transport systems. A potential dual-acting antibiofilm strategy requires molecules designed to interfere with iron uptake and the QS system of P. aeruginosa. A series of 2-substituted 3-hydroxy-1,6-dimethylpyridin-4-ones have been designed, synthesized, and tested as biofilm inhibitors of P. aeruginosa. One compound, N-((1,3,6-trimethyl-4-oxo-1,4-dihydropyridin-2-yl)methyl)hexanamide (10d), exhibits 68.67% biofilm inhibitory activity at 20 μM. Further mechanistic studies have confirmed that this compound not only inhibits the QS systems of P. aeruginosa but also acts as an iron chelator to compete strongly with pyoverdine, causing iron deficiency in bacteria. The pyoverdine receptor FpvA was revealed as the target of 10d by the Pvds mutant strain, fpvA-overexpressed strain, and in silico studies.
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