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Keywords:

  • antitumor agents;
  • cytotoxicity;
  • combretastatins;
  • multicomponent reactions;
  • tubulin;
  • vascular disrupting agents

Abstract

Combretastatin A1 (CA1) binds to the β-subunit at the colchicine binding site of tubulin and inhibits polymerization. As such, it is both an antitumor agent and a vascular disrupting agent. It has been shown to be at least tenfold more potent than combretastatin A4 (CA4) in terms of vascular shutdown, which correlates with its metabolism to reactive ortho-quinone species that are assumed to be directly cytotoxic in tumor cells. A series of 3,4-diarylpyrazoles were concisely synthesized, one of which, 3-methoxy-6-[4-(3,4,5-trimethoxyphenyl)-1H-pyrazol-3-yl]benzene-1,2-diol (27), proved to be a cytotoxic anti-tubulin agent with low nanomolar potency. We also report that combretastatins, including CA1, CA4, and 27, are effective against mesothelioma cell lines and therefore have significant clinical promise. Metabolism experiments demonstrate that 27 retains the ability to form ortho-quinone species, while the pyrazole ring shows high metabolic stability, suggesting that this compound might result in better pharmacokinetic profiles than CA1, with similar pharmacodynamic properties and clinical potential.