Identification and Characterization of Novel Small-Molecule SMOX Inhibitors

Med Sci (Basel). 2022 Aug 30;10(3):47. doi: 10.3390/medsci10030047.


The major intracellular polyamines spermine and spermidine are abundant and ubiquitous compounds that are essential for cellular growth and development. Spermine catabolism is mediated by spermine oxidase (SMOX), a highly inducible flavin-dependent amine oxidase that is upregulated during excitotoxic, ischemic, and inflammatory states. In addition to the loss of radical scavenging capabilities associated with spermine depletion, the catabolism of spermine by SMOX results in the production of toxic byproducts, including H2O2 and acrolein, a highly toxic aldehyde with the ability to form adducts with DNA and inactivate vital cellular proteins. Despite extensive evidence implicating SMOX as a key enzyme contributing to secondary injury associated with multiple pathologic states, the lack of potent and selective inhibitors has significantly impeded the investigation of SMOX as a therapeutic target. In this study, we used a virtual and physical screening approach to identify and characterize a series of hit compounds with inhibitory activity against SMOX. We now report the discovery of potent and highly selective SMOX inhibitors 6 (IC50 0.54 μM, Ki 1.60 μM) and 7 (IC50 0.23 μM, Ki 0.46 μM), which are the most potent SMOX inhibitors reported to date. We hypothesize that these selective SMOX inhibitors will be useful as chemical probes to further elucidate the impact of polyamine catabolism on mechanisms of cellular injury.

Keywords: acrolein; excitotoxicity; neuronal injury; oxidative stress; polyamine oxidase; polyamines; spermine oxidase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acrolein / metabolism
  • Flavins
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-NH Group Donors* / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-NH Group Donors* / metabolism
  • Polyamine Oxidase
  • Polyamines / chemistry
  • Polyamines / metabolism
  • Spermidine / metabolism
  • Spermidine / pharmacology
  • Spermine* / metabolism
  • Spermine* / pharmacology


  • Flavins
  • Polyamines
  • Spermine
  • Acrolein
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-NH Group Donors
  • Spermidine