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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Hypoxia-selective antitumor agents. 5. Synthesis of water-soluble nitroaniline mustards with selective cytotoxicity for hypoxic mammalian cells.

Nitroaniline mustards have potential as hypoxia-selective cytotoxic agents, with reductive metabolism activating the nitrogen mustard by converting the electron-withdrawing nitro group to an electron-donating hydroxylamine or amine. However, the parent compounds have poor aqueous solubility, and their potencies are limited by low reduction potentials (E1/2 ca. -600 mV versus the normal hydrogen electrode) and corresponding slow rates of nitro reduction. To address these limitations, a series of 4-nitroaniline mustards bearing hydrophilic side chains attached via an electron-withdrawing carboxamide group was prepared and evaluated for hypoxia-selective cytotoxicity against Chinese hamster cell lines. The N-[(N,N-dimethylamino)ethyl]carboxamide derivatives proved to have excellent aqueous solubility and improved cytotoxic potency, but their reduction potentials, while higher than the non-carboxamide compounds, were still low and little selectivity for hypoxic cells were observed. A series of carboxamides of 2,4-dinitroaniline mustard was also prepared. These compounds had reduction potentials in the desired range (E1/2 ca. -450 mV by cyclic voltammetry) and were more toxic to hypoxic than aerobic UV4 cells. The most selective compounds were 5-[N,N-bis(2-chloroethyl)amino]-2,4-dinitrobenzamide (20, SN 23862) and its water-soluble N-[(N,N-dimethylamino)ethyl]carboxamide analogue. These showed selectivities of 60- to 70-fold for hypoxic UV4 cells. The selectivity of 20 was much superior to that of its aziridine analogue (23, CB 1954), which was only 3.6-fold more toxic to hypoxic than oxic cells in the same system. Compound 20 is a much less efficient substrate than CB 1954 for the major aerobic nitroreductase from rat Walker tumor cells, NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase ( DT diaphorase). Lack of aerobic bioactivation of 20 by DT diaphorases may be responsible for its higher hypoxic selectivity than that of 23.[1]


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