Superior anti-neoplastic activities of triacontanol-PEG conjugate: synthesis, characterization and biological evaluations

Triacontanol (TA, C30H62O), abundantly present in plant cuticle waxes and bee waxes, has been found to display promising anti-neoplastic potentials. As a long chain fatty alcohol, TA possesses limited aqueous solubility, which hinders its medicinal application. To overcome its solubility barrier, a polymer prodrug was synthesized through attaching TA to poly ethylene glycol (PEG), using succinic acid as a linker with bifunctional amide and ester bonds. Anti-neoplastic effects of PEG-TA were assessed in LoVo and MCF7 cells, anti-proliferative and apoptosis-inducing activities were subsequently confirmed in mouse xenograft model. Encouragingly, PEG-TA possessed selective anti-cancer ability. It did not exhibit significant cytotoxicity on normal cells. Mechanistic examination revealed inhibition of NF-κB nuclear translocation, suppression on matrix degradation enzyme and down-regulation of angiogenic signaling might contribute to its anti-malignant effects. Pharmacokinetics clearly indicated PEGylated TA (named as mPEG2K-SA-TA) substantially enhanced TA delivery with increased plasma exposure (19,791 vs. 336.25 ng·mL−1·h−1,p < .001), mean residence time (8.46 vs. 2.95 h, p < .001) and elimination half-life (7.78 vs. 2.57 h, p < .001) compared to those of original TA. Moreover, mPEG2K-SA-TA appeared to be safe in preliminary toxicological assessment. PEGylated TA also emerged as a functional carrier to deliver hydrophobic chemotherapeutic agents, since it readily self-assembled to micelles in aqueous solution with a low critical micelle concentration (CMC, 19.1 µg·mL−1). Conclusively, PEG-TA conjugate displayed superior anti-neoplastic activities and low toxicity, as well as facilitated the delivery of other hydrophobic agents, which appeared to be an innovative strategy for cancer therapy. (Drug Deliv. 2018; 25(1): 1546–1559.)

Maslinic acid derivatives induce significant apoptosis in b16f10 murine melanoma cells

Maslinic acid (2α,3β-dihydroxyolean-12-en-28-oic acid), a natural dihydroxylated pentacyclic triterpene acid isolated from olive-pressing residues, has been investigated together with some of its derivatives regarding the induction of apoptosis in B16F10 melanoma cells. Some of the compounds tested are described in this work, but others come from previous studies. Ten of these derivatives induce over 80% of apoptosis, clearly promoting cell death in B16F10 melanoma. By contrast, the induction cell death through necrosis was very slightly significant with these compounds. These results indicate that maslinic acid derivatives are promising chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agents. (European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. Volume 46, Issue 12, December 2011, Pages 5991-6001.)

Synthesis of acyl oleanolic acid-uracil conjugates and their anti-tumor activity

Oleanolic acid, which can be isolated from many foods and medicinal plants, has been reported to possess diverse biological activities. It has been found that the acylation of the hydroxyl groups of the A-ring in the triterpene skeleton of oleanolic acid could be favorable for biological activities. The pyrimidinyl group has been constructed in many new compounds in various anti-tumor studies. Results: Five acyl oleanolic acid-uracil conjugates were synthesized. Most of the IC50 values of these conjugates were lower than 10.0 μM, and some of them were even under 0.1 μM. Cytotoxicity selectivity detection revealed that conjugate 4c exhibited low cytotoxicity towards the normal human liver cell line HL-7702. Further studies revealed that 4c clearly possessed apoptosis inducing effects, could arrest the Hep-G2 cell line in the G1 phase, induce late-stage apoptosis, and activate effector caspase-3/9 to trigger apoptosis. Conclusions: Conjugates of five different acyl OA derivatives with uracil were synthesized and identified as possessing high selectivity toward tumor cell lines. These conjugates could induce apoptosis in Hep-G2 cells by triggering caspase-3/9 activity. (Chem Cent J. 2016; 10: 69.)

Synthesis and in vitro antiproliferative evaluation of PEGylated triterpene acids

A set of PEGylated derivatives of oleanolic and maslinic acids has been semi-synthesised, attaching ethylene glycol, diethylene glycol, triethylene glycol or tetraethylene glycol to the C-28 carboxyl group of these natural triterpenes and some derivatives. Another set of PEGylated derivatives has been semi-synthesised by connecting the same four ethylene glycols to the hydroxyl groups of the A ring of these triterpenic acids, through a carbonate linker, by reaction with trichloromethyl chloroformate. The aqueous solubility of some of these PEGylated derivatives has been compared with that of maslinic acid. The cytotoxic effects of 28 triterpenic PEGylated derivatives in three cancer-cell lines (B16-F10, HT29, and Hep G2) have been assayed. The best results have been achieved with the HT29 cell line, and specifically with the oleanolic acid derivatives having ethylene glycol or tetraethylene glycol attached to the C-28 carboxyl group, which are approximately 27-fold more effective than their natural precursor. Eight PEGylated derivatives have been selected to compare the cytotoxicity results in the HT29 cancer-cell line with those of a non-tumour cell line of the same tissue (IEC-18), four of which were less cytotoxic in the non-tumour cell line. These compounds showed apoptotic effects on treated cells, with percentages of total apoptosis between 20% and 53%, relative to control, at 72 h and IC50 concentration, and between 29% to 62%, relative to control, for the same time and IC80 concentration. We have also found that with the treatment of these compounds in HT29 cancer cells, cell-cycle arrest occurred in the G0/G1 phase. Finally, we have also studied changes in mitochondrial membrane potential during apoptosis of HT29 cancer cells, and the results suggest an activation of the extrinsic apoptotic pathway for these compounds. (Fitoterapia. Volume 120, July 2017, Pages 25-40.)

Solid-Phase Library Synthesis of Bi-Functional Derivatives of Oleanolic and Maslinic Acids

A wide set of 264 compounds has been semisynthesized with high yields and purities. These compounds have been obtained through easy synthetic processes based on a solid-phase combinatorial methodology. All the members of this library have one central core of a natural pentacyclic triterpene (oleanolic or maslinic acid) and differ by 6 amino acids, coupled with the carboxyl group at C-28 of the triterpenoid skeleton, and by 10 different acyl groups attached to the hydroxyl groups of the A-ring of these molecules. According to the literature on the outstanding and promising pharmacological activities of other similar terpene derivatives, some of these compounds have been tested for their cytotoxic effects on the proliferation of three cancer cell lines: B16–F10, HT29, and Hep G2. In general, we have found that around 70% of the compounds tested show cytotoxicity in all three of the cell lines selected; around 60% of the cytotoxic compounds are more effective than their corresponding precursors, that is, oleanolic (OA) or maslinic (MA) acids; and nearly 50% of the cytotoxic derivatives have IC50 values between 2- to 320-fold lower than their corresponding precursor (OA or MA). (ACS Comb. Sci., 2014, 16 (8), pp 428–447.)

Diamine and PEGylated-diamine conjugates of triterpenic acids as potential anticancer agents

A set of 18 amide derivatives of oleanolic or maslinic acid has been semi-synthesised. Twelve were diamine conjugates at C-28 of these triterpenic acids and the other six were PEGylated-diamine derivatives. The cytotoxic effects of these 18 triterpenic derivatives in three cancer-cell lines (B16-F10, HT29, and Hep G2) have been assayed, and have been compared to three non-tumour cell lines of the same or a similar tissue (HPF, IEC-18, and WRL68). The cell viability percentages for the non-tumour HPF line for almost all diamine conjugates of the tested triterpenic acids ranged from 81% to 94%. The best cytotoxic results were achieved with the diamine conjugates of oleanolic or maslinic acid with the shortest and the longest diamine chain (IC50 values from 0.76 μM to 1.76 μM), on the B16-F10 cell line, being between 140- and 20-fold more effective than their corresponding precursors. Four diamine conjugates of these triterpenic acids showed apoptotic effects on treated cells of the B16-F10 line, with total apoptosis rates, relative to control, of between 73% and 90%. The DNA-histogram analysis revealed that all compounds tested produced cell-cycle arrest in B16-F10 cells, increasing the number of these cells in the S phase. All the compounds analysed, except one, did not cause changes in mitochondrial-membrane potential during apoptosis of the B16-F10 cancer cells, suggesting an activation of the extrinsic apoptotic pathway for these compounds. (Eur J Med Chem. 2018 Mar 25;148:325-336.)

An intranasally delivered peptide drug ameliorates cognitive decline in Alzheimer transgenic mice

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disease. Imbalance between the production and clearance of amyloid β (Aβ) peptides is considered to be the primary mechanism of AD pathogenesis. This amyloid hypothesis is supported by the recent success of the human anti‐amyloid antibody aducanumab, in clearing plaque and slowing clinical impairment in prodromal or mild patients in a phase Ib trial. Here, a peptide combining polyarginines (polyR) (for charge repulsion) and a segment derived from the core region of Aβ amyloid (for sequence recognition) was designed. The efficacy of the designed peptide, R8‐Aβ(25–35), on amyloid reduction and the improvement of cognitive functions were evaluated using APP/PS1 double transgenic mice. Daily intranasal administration of PEI‐conjugated R8‐Aβ(25–35) peptide significantly reduced Aβ amyloid accumulation and ameliorated the memory deficits of the transgenic mice. Intranasal administration is a feasible route for peptide delivery. The modular design combining polyR and aggregate‐forming segments produced a desirable therapeutic effect and could be easily adopted to design therapeutic peptides for other proteinaceous aggregate‐associated diseases.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disease that causes dementia across multiple cognitive domains. Its incidence increases significantly with age and doubles every 5 years among the geriatric population ≧ 65 years of age. Despite remarkable scientific advancement and the vast resources invested in drug development, no effective therapy is currently available for AD. Thus, it is listed as one of the major unmet medical needs worldwide. Peptide drugs have been used with consistent benefits for many years and have advantages over small molecules, such as higher potency and fewer off‐target side effects (Craik et al, 2013). In addition, the properties of easy customization and synthesis under a well‐controlled environment make peptides excellent candidates for AD drug development. Neurodegenerative diseases encompass a heterogeneous group of neurological diseases characterized by synoptic and neuronal losses caused by multiple factors. Misfolded proteinaceous aggregates which exist in a variety of these diseases besides AD, including Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, are considered one of them, and may cause or contribute to these diseases through their prionlike property (Kim & Holtzman, 2010; de Calignon et al, 2012; Luk et al, 2012; Smethurst et al, 2016). In spite of the difference in the constituent proteins and complexity of assembly mechanism, the proteinaceous aggregates across these diseases share common structural conformations such as a β‐sheet conformation in the backbone (Funke & Willbold, 2012). This provides the basis for a rational design of therapeutic peptides for these misfolded aggregate‐associated diseases by applying a universal principle to reverse the process of formation. (EMBO Mol Med. 2017 May; 9(5): 703–715.)

A calorimetric evaluation of the interaction of amphiphilic prodrugs of idebenone with a biomembrane model

Lipoamino acids (LAA) are useful promoieties to modify physicochemical properties of drugs, namely lipophilicity and amphiphilicity. The resulting membrane-like character of drug–LAA conjugates can increase the absorption profile of drugs through cell membranes and biological barriers. To show the role of amphiphilicity with respect to lipophilicity in the interaction of drugs with biomembranes, in the present study we evaluated the mode of such an interaction of lipophilic conjugates of LAA with the antioxidant drug idebenone (IDE). DSC analysis and transfer kinetic studies were carried out using dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC) multilamellar liposomes (MLVs) as a model. For comparison, two esters of IDE with alkanoic acids were synthesized and included in the analysis. The experimental results indicate that based on their different structure, IDE–LAA conjugates interacted at different levels with respect to pure IDE with DMPC bilayers. In particular, a progressive penetration inside the vesicles was observed upon incubation of IDE–LAA compounds with empty liposomes. The enhanced amphiphilicity of the drug due to the LAA moieties caused more complex interactions with DMPC bilayers, compared to those registered with the native drug or IDE alkanoate esters.(J Colloid Interface Sci. 2006 Jul 15;299(2):626-35.)