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A Derivative of Piperlongumine and Ligustrazine as a Potential Thioredoxin Reductase Inhibitor in Drug-Resistant Hepatocellular Carcinoma

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journal contribution
posted on 21.11.2021, 19:03 by Jianqiang Qian, Zhongyuan Xu, Peng Zhu, Chi Meng, Yun Liu, Wenpei Shan, Ang He, Yipeng Gu, Fansheng Ran, Yanan Zhang, Yong Ling
The natural products piperlongumine (1) and ligustrazine (2) have been reported to exert antiproliferative effects against various types of cancer cells by up-regulating the level of reactive oxidative species (ROS). However, the moderate activities of 1 and 2 limit their application. To improve their potential antitumor activity, novel piperlongumine/ligustrazine derivatives were designed and prepared, and their potential pharmacological effects were determined in vitro and in vivo. Among the derivatives obtained, 11 exerted more prominent inhibitory activities against proliferation of drug-sensitive/-resistant cancer cells with lower IC50 values than 1. Particularly, the IC50 value of 11 against drug-resistant Bel-7402/5-FU cells was 0.9 μM, which was about 9-fold better than that of 1 (IC50 value of 8.4 μM). Mechanistic studies showed that 11 demonstrated thioredoxin reductase (TrxR) inhibitory activity, increase of ROS levels, decrease of mitochondrial transmembrane potential levels, and occurrence of DNA damage and autophagy, in a dose-dependent manner, via regulation of DNA damage protein H2AX and autophagy-associated proteins LC3, beclin-1, and p62 in drug-resistant Bel-7402/5-FU cells. Finally, compound 11 at 5 mg/kg displayed potent antitumor activity in vivo with tumor suppression of 76% (w/w). Taken together, compound 11 may represent a promising candidate drug for the chemotherapy of drug-resistant hepatocellular carcinoma and warrant more intensive study.