Preclinical Efficacy and Safety Assessment of Artemisinin-Chemotherapeutic Agent Conjugates for Ovarian Cancer.
EBioMedicine. 2016 Dec ;14:44-54. Epub 2016 Nov 23. PMID: 27939426
: Artemisinin (ARS) and its derivatives, which are clinically used antimalarial agents, have shown antitumor activities. Their therapeutic potencies, however, are limited by their low solubility and poor bioavailability. Here, through a pharmacophore hybridization strategy, we synthesized ARS-drug conjugates, in which the marketed chemotherapeutic agents chlorambucil, melphalan, flutamide, aminoglutethimide, and doxifluridine, were separately bonded to Dihydroartemisinin (DHA) through various linkages. Of these, the artemisinin-melphalan conjugate, ARS4, exhibited most toxicity to human ovarian cancer cells but had low cytotoxicity to normal cells. ARS4 inhibited the growth and proliferation of ovarian cancer cells and resulted in S-phase arrest, apoptosis, and inhibition of migration; these effects were stronger than those of its parent drugs, DHA and melphalan. Furthermore, ARS4 modulated the expression of proteins involved in cell cycle progression, apoptosis, and the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Moreover, in mice, ARS4 inhibited growth and intraperitoneal dissemination and metastasis of ovarian cancer cells without observable toxic effects. Our results provide a basis for development of the compound as a chemotherapeutic agent.
RESEARCH IN CONTEXT: Artemisinin compounds have recently received attention as anticancer agents because of their clinical safety profiles and broad efficacy. However, their therapeutic potencies are limited by low solubility and poor bioavailability. Here, we report that ARS4, an artemisinin-melphalan conjugate, possesses marked in-vitro and in-vivo antitumor activity against ovarian cancer, the effects of which are stronger than those for its parent drugs, Dihydroartemisinin and melphalan. In mice, ARS4 inhibits localized growth of ovarian cancer cells and intraperitoneal dissemination and metastasis without appreciable host toxicity. Thus, for patients with ovarian cancer, ARS4 is a promising chemotherapeutic agent.