Synthesis and biological evaluation of novel curcumin analogs as anti-cancer and anti-angiogenesis agents

Bioorg Med Chem. 2004 Jul 15;12(14):3871-83. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2004.05.006.


A series of novel curcumin analogs were synthesized and screened for anti-cancer and anti-angiogenesis activities at Emory University and at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). These compounds are symmetrical alpha,beta-unsaturated and saturated ketones. The majority of the analogs demonstrated a moderate degree of anti-cancer activity. Compounds 10, 11, and 14 exhibited a high degree of cytotoxicity in the NCI in vitro anti-cancer cell line screen. In addition, this screen revealed that these compounds inhibit tumor cell growth with a higher potency than the commonly used chemotherapeutic drug, cisplatin. In independent in vitro screens conducted at Emory, the same compounds plus 4, 5, 8, 9, and 13 exhibited a high degree of cytotoxicity to tumor cells. Analogs that were effective in the anti-cancer screens were also effective in in vitro anti-angiogenesis assays. Compounds 4, 9, 11, and 14 were most effective in the anti-angiogenesis assays run at Emory. In the assays conducted by the NCI, compound 14 was almost as potent as the anti-angiogenic drug TNP-470, which has undergone clinical trials. Based on the favorable in vitro anti-cancer and anti-angiogenesis results with 14, further in vivo tests were conducted. This compound effectively reduced the size of human breast tumors grown in female athymic nude mice and showed little toxicity. This data, coupled with the remarkable in vitro data, suggests that compound 14 may potentially be an effective chemotherapeutic agent. As a follow-up, a 3D quantitative structure relationship based on 14 has been developed. It shows a cross-validated r2(q2) and a predictive r2(p2) = 0.71. COMPARE analysis suggests the compound to be a possible RNA/DNA antimetabolite, but also implies that the compound's cytotoxicity may arise from a presently unknown mechanism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / chemical synthesis*
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemical synthesis*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Curcumin / chemical synthesis*
  • Curcumin / pharmacology*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Curcumin