Synthesis and in vitro antiproliferative evaluation of PEGylated triterpene acids

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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.)

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