Ellipticine is a potent antineoplastic agent exhibiting multiple mechanisms of action. This anticancer agent should be considered a pro-drug, whose pharmacological efficiency and/or genotoxic side effects are dependent on its cytochrome P450 (CYP)- and/or peroxidase-mediated activation to species forming covalent DNA adducts. Ellipticine can also act as an inhibitor or inducer of biotransformation enzymes, thereby modulating its own metabolism leading to its genotoxic and pharmacological effects. Here, a comparison of the toxicity of ellipticine to human breast adenocarcinoma MCF-7 cells, leukemia HL-60 and CCRF-CEM cells, neuroblastoma IMR-32, UKF-NB-3 and UKF-NB-4 cells and U87MG glioblastoma cells and mechanisms of its action to these cells were evaluated. Treatment of all cells tested with ellipticine resulted in inhibition of cell growth and proliferation. This effect was associated with formation of two covalent ellipticine-derived DNA adducts, identical to those formed by 13-hydroxy- and 12-hydroxyellipticine, the ellipticine metabolites generated by CYP and peroxidase enzymes, in MCF-7, HL-60, CCRF-CEM, UKF-NB-3, UKF-NB-4 and U87MG cells, but not in neuroblastoma UKF-NB-3 cells. Therefore, DNA adduct formation in most cancer cell lines tested in this comparative study might be the predominant cause of their sensitivity to ellipticine treatment, whereas other mechanisms of ellipticine action also contribute to its cytotoxicity to neuroblastoma UKF-NB-3 cells.
Keywords: DNA adducts; Ellipticine; cancer cell lines; mechanims of acticancer effects of ellipticine.