Synthesis and characterization of a cobalamin-colchicine conjugate as a novel tumor-targeted cytotoxin

J Org Chem. 2004 Dec 24;69(26):8987-96. doi: 10.1021/jo049953w.


Colchicine was derivatized at C7 with p-alkoxyacetophenone and conjugated to cobalamin (vitamin B(12)) through an acid-labile hydrazone linker. The cobalamin moiety leads to preferential uptake of the cobalamin-colchicine prodrug by cancer cells, whereupon the hydrazone linker undergoes hydrolysis in the lysosome to unmask colchicine, which acts as a potent cytotoxin by stabilizing microtubules and causing cell death. The bioconjugate is stable in cell culture media and at neutral pH but undergoes hydrolysis with a half-life of 138 min at pH 4.5. The colchicine-cobalamin bioconjugate exhibits nanomolar LC(50) values against breast, brain, and melanoma cancer cell lines in culture. Attachment of colchicine to cobalamin is expected to increase the therapeutic index of the drug by limiting the side effects caused by the current nonselective administration of tubulin-targeted chemotherapeutic drugs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Colchicine / chemistry*
  • Cytotoxins / chemical synthesis
  • Cytotoxins / chemistry*
  • Cytotoxins / pharmacokinetics
  • Cytotoxins / pharmacology
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Vitamin B 12 / chemistry*


  • Cytotoxins
  • Vitamin B 12
  • Colchicine