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Bioreductively Activatable Prodrug Conjugates of Combretastatin A‑1 and Combretastatin A‑4 as Anticancer Agents Targeted toward Tumor-Associated Hypoxia

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-03-20, 16:36 authored by Blake A. Winn, Laxman Devkota, Bunnarack Kuch, Matthew T. MacDonough, Tracy E. Strecker, Yifan Wang, Zhe Shi, Jeni L. Gerberich, Deboprosad Mondal, Alejandro J. Ramirez, Ernest Hamel, David J. Chaplin, Peter Davis, Ralph P. Mason, Mary Lynn Trawick, Kevin G. Pinney
The natural products combretastatin A-1 (CA1) and combretastatin A-4 (CA4) function as potent inhibitors of tubulin polymerization and as selective vascular disrupting agents (VDAs) in tumors. Bioreductively activatable prodrug conjugates (BAPCs) can enhance selectivity by serving as substrates for reductase enzymes specifically in hypoxic regions of tumors. A series of CA1-BAPCs incorporating nor-methyl, mono-methyl, and gem-dimethyl nitrothiophene triggers were synthesized together with corresponding CA4-BAPCs, previously reported by Davis (Mol. Cancer Ther. 2006, 5 (11), 2886), for comparison. The CA4-gem-dimethylnitrothiophene BAPC 45 proved exemplary in comparison to its nor-methyl 43 and mono-methyl 44 congeners. It was stable in phosphate buffer (pH 7.4, 24 h), was cleaved (25%, 90 min) by NADPH-cytochrome P450 oxidoreductase (POR), was inactive (desirable prodrug attribute) as an inhibitor of tubulin polymerization (IC50 > 20 μM), and demonstrated hypoxia-selective activation in the A549 cell line [hypoxia cytotoxicity ratio (HCR) = 41.5]. The related CA1-gem-dimethylnitrothiophene BAPC 41 was also promising (HCR = 12.5) with complete cleavage (90 min) upon treatment with POR. In a preliminary in vivo dynamic bioluminescence imaging study, BAPC 45 (180 mg/kg, ip) induced a decrease (within 4 h) in light emission in a 4T1 syngeneic mouse breast tumor model, implying activation and vascular disruption.