Journal of medicinal chemistry

Halogenated 2'-benzoylpyridine thiosemicarbazone (XBpT) chelators with potent and selective anti-neoplastic activity: relationship to intracellular redox activity.

PMID 21846118


Iron chelators of the 2'-benzoylpyridine thiosemicarbazone (BpT) class show substantial potential as anticancer agents. To explore structure-activity relationships, new BpT analogues were designed that incorporated halogen substituents on the noncoordinating phenyl group (XBpTs). These XBpT ligands exhibited potent antiproliferative activity with some analogues exceeding that of the parent BpT compound. Importantly, there was an appreciable therapeutic index in vitro, as mortal cells were significantly less affected by these chelators relative to neoplastic cells. The addition of a halogen led to a halogen-specific increase in the redox potential of XBpT-Fe complexes. Probing for chelator-induced intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) with the fluorescent probe, 2',7'-dichlorofluorescein, revealed a 1.5-4.7-fold increase in fluorescence upon incorporation of Cl, Br, or I to the parent analogues. Furthermore, an important structure-activity relationship was deduced where the addition of halogens led to a positive correlation between intracellular ROS generation and antiproliferative activity in the more hydrophilic BpT parent compounds.