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Synthesis, Biological Evaluation and Molecular Docking Study of Cyclic Diarylheptanoids as Potential Anticancer Therapeutics

[ Vol. 20 , Issue. 4 ]


Yang Lu, Wencui Yin, Mohammad S. Alam, Adnan A. Kadi, Yurngdong Jahng, Youngjoo Kwon* and A.F.M. Motiur Rahman*   Pages 464 - 475 ( 12 )


Background: Cancer is one of the leading causes of mortality globally. To cope with cancer, it is necessary to develop anticancer drugs. Bioactive natural products, i.e. diarylheptanoids, have gained significant attention of researchers owing to their intriguing structures and potent biological activities. In this article, considering the development of anticancer drugs with enhanced selectivity towards cancerous cells, a series of Cyclic Diarylheptanoids (CDHs) are designed, synthesized and evaluated their biological activity.

Objective: To establish an easy route for the synthesis of diarylheptanoids, and evaluate their antiproliferative, and topoisomerase-I & -IIα inhibitory activities, for developing potential anticancer drugs among CDHs.

Methods: Diarylheptanoids were synthesized from reported linear diarylheptanoids using the classical Ullmann reaction. Antibacterial activity was evaluated by the filter paper disc diffusion method. Cell viability was assessed by measuring mitochondrial dehydrogenase activity with a Cell Counting Kit (CCK-8). Topoisomerases I and II (topo-I and -IIα) inhibitory activity was measured by the assessment of relaxation of supercoiled pBR322 plasmid DNA. IFD protocol of Schrodinger Maestro v11.1 was used to characterize the binding pattern of studied compounds with the ATPase domain of the human topo-IIα.

Results: The synthesized CDHs were evaluated for their biological activities (antibacterial, antiproliferative, and topoisomerase-I & -IIα inhibitory activities, respectively). Leading to obtain a series of anticancer agents with the least inhibitory activities against different microbes, improving their selectivity for cancer cells. In brief, most of the synthesized CDHs had excellent antiproliferative activity against T47D (human breast cancer cell line). Pterocarine possessed the strongest activity (2i; IC50 = 0.63µM) against T47D. The cyclic diarylheptanoid 2b induced 30% inhibition of topoisomerase-IIα activity at 100μM compared with the reference of etoposide, which induced 72% inhibition. Among the tested compounds, galeon (2h) displayed very low activity against four bacterial strains. Compounds 2b, 2h, and 2i formed hydrogen bonds with Thr215, Asn91, Asn120, Ala167, Lys168 and Ile141 residues, which are important for binding of ligand compound to the ATPase binding site of topoisomerase IIα by acting as ATP competitive molecule validated by docking study. In silico Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Excretion (ADME) analysis revealed the predicted ADME parameters of the studied compounds which showed recommended values.

Conclusion: A series of CDHs were synthesized and evaluated for their antibacterial, antiproliferative, and topo-I & -IIα inhibitory activities. SARs study, molecular docking study and in silico ADME analysis were conducted. Five compounds exhibited excellent and selective antiproliferative activity against the human breast cancer cell line (T47D). Among them, a compound 2h showed topo-IIα activity by 30% at 100µM, which represented a moderate intensity of inhibition compared with etoposide. Three of them formed hydrogen bonds with Thr215, Asn91, Asn120, and Ala167 residues, which are considered as crucial residues for binding to the ATPase domain of topoisomerase IIα. According to in silico drug-likeness property analysis, three compounds are expected to show superiority over etoposide in case of absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion.


Diarylheptanoids, cyclic diarylheptanoids, Topo-I, Topo-IIα, antiproliferative activity, topoisomerases inhibitor.


College of Pharmacy, Yeungnam University, Gyeongsan 38541, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Department of Chemistry, Jagannath University, Dhaka 1100, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, College of Pharmacy, Yeungnam University, Gyeongsan 38541, College of Pharmacy, Ewha Womans University, Seoul 03760, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451

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