Conformationally restricted analogues of 1N,14N-bisethylhomospermine (BE-4-4-4): synthesis and growth inhibitory effects on human prostate cancer cells

J Med Chem. 2001 Feb 1;44(3):390-403. doi: 10.1021/jm000309t.


Twelve analogues of 1N,14N-bisethylhomospermine (BE-4-4-4) with restricted conformations were synthesized in the search for cancer chemotherapeutic agents with higher cytotoxic activities and lower systemic toxicities than BE-4-4-4. The central butane segment of BE-4-4-4 was replaced with a 1,2-substituted cyclopropane ring, a 1,2-substituted cyclobutane ring, and a 2-butene residue. In each case, the cis/trans-isomeric pair was synthesized. Cis-monounsaturation(s) was also introduced at the outer butane segment(s) of BE-4-4-4. The two possible cis-dienes and a cis-triene formally derived from the tetraazaeicosane skeleton of BE-4-4-4 were also prepared. Four cultured human prostate cancer cell lines (LnCap, DU145, DuPro, and PC-3) were treated with the new tetramines to examine their effects on cell growth with a MTT assay. One representative cell line (DuPro) was selected to further study the cellular uptake of the novel tetramines, their effects on intracellular polyamine pools, and their cytotoxicity. All tetramines entered the cells, reduced cellular putrescine and spermidine pools while exerting only a small effect on the spermine pool, inhibited cell growth, and killed 2-3 logs of cells after 6 days of treatment at 10 microM. Four new tetramines, the two cyclopropyl isomers, the trans-cyclobutyl isomer, and the (5Z)-tetraazaeicosene, were more cytotoxic than their saturated counterpart (BE-4-4-4). Their cytotoxicity, however, could not be correlated either with their cellular uptake or with their ability to deplete intracellular polyamine pools. We attribute their cytotoxicity to their specific molecular structures. The cytotoxicity was markedly reduced when the central butane segment was deprived of its rotational freedom by replacing it with a double bond. Introduction of a triple bond or a benzene-1,2-dimethyl residue at the central segment of the polyamine chain, led to complete loss of biological activity. The conformationally restricted alicyclic derivatives were not only more cytotoxic than was the freely rotating BE-4-4-4 by several orders of magnitude but also had much lower systemic toxicities than the latter. Thus, we obtained new tetramines with a wider therapeutic window than BE-4-4-4.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemical synthesis*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms
  • Spermine / analogs & derivatives
  • Spermine / chemical synthesis*
  • Spermine / chemistry
  • Spermine / pharmacology
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • N(1),N(14)-bis(ethyl)homospermine
  • Spermine