Seventeen novel emodin derivatives were synthesized, and the structures were confirmed by IR, H NMR, MS, and elemental analysis. The cytotoxic activity of the derivatives was evaluated against A375, BGC-823, HepG2, and HELF cells by MTT assay. Compound 9a with highest potency and low toxicity was selected to further investigate its detailed molecular mechanism. The lead compound 9a induced a loss of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential (▵Ψm), an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS), release of cytochrome c and activation of caspase-3 and caspase-9. In addition, the confocal study showed that emodin derivative 9a (containing asymmetric hydrocarbon tails) was mainly localized in mitochondria, demonstrating a key role of the mitochondria-mediated apoptosis pathway in cancer cells. Taken together, the results demonstrate that embodin derivative 9a preferentially regulates the ROS-mediated apoptosis in A375 cells through the induction of cytochrome c expression and activation of caspase-3 and caspase-9 proteins.
Keywords: apoptosis; emodin derivative; reactive oxygen species; synthesis.
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons A/S.