Antileukemic effects of Didemnum psammatodes (Tunicata: Ascidiacea) constituents

Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2008 Nov;151(3):363-369. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2007.02.011. Epub 2007 Feb 20.


Chemical investigation of the methanolic extract of the ascidian Didemnum psammatodes has led to the identification of fourteen known compounds: three methyl esters (methyl myristate, methyl palmitate and methyl stearate), four steroids (cholesterol, campesterol, stigmasterol and beta-sitosterol), two fatty acids (palmitic acid and stearic acid), three glyceryl ethers {(1,2-propanediol, 3-(heptadecyloxy), batyl alcohol and 1,2-propanediol, 3-[(methyloctadecyl)oxy]} and two nucleosides (thymidine and 2'-deoxyguanosine). Their structures were proposed by NMR and comparison with literature data and GC analysis in comparison with authentic sample. The cytotoxic activity of these compounds was evaluated against human leukemia cell line panel using the MTT assay. The mixture of the three methyl esters was the most active group of compounds, showing antiproliferative and cytotoxic effects. Further studies on their mode of action suggest that these activities are connected with inhibition of DNA synthesis and induction of both necrosis and apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cytotoxins / chemistry
  • Cytotoxins / isolation & purification
  • Cytotoxins / pharmacology*
  • Esters / chemistry
  • Esters / isolation & purification
  • Esters / pharmacology
  • HL-60 Cells
  • Humans
  • K562 Cells
  • Leukemia / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia / pathology
  • Leukemia, T-Cell
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Peptides / isolation & purification
  • Peptides / pharmacology
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma
  • Urochordata / chemistry*


  • Cytotoxins
  • Esters
  • Peptides