In the search for potent water-soluble 3-arylisoquinolines, several 3-arylisoquinolinamines were designed and synthesized. Various substituted 3-arylisoquinolinamines exhibited strong cytotoxic activity against eight different human cancer cell lines. In particular, C-6 or C-7 dimethylamino-substituted 3-arylisoquinolinamines displayed stronger potency than the lead compound 7a. Interestingly, compounds 7b and 7c showed more effective activity against paclitaxel-resistant HCT-15 human colorectal cancer cell lines when compared to the original cytotoxic cancer drug, paclitaxel. We analyzed the cell cycle dynamics by flow cytometry and found that treatment of human HCT-15 cells with 3-arylisoquinolinamine 7b blocked or delayed the progression of cells from G0/G1 phase into S phase, and induced cell death. Treatment with compound 7b also significantly inhibited the growth of tumors and enhanced tumor regression in a paclitaxel-resistant HCT-15 xenograft model.
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