Synthesis and evaluation of 9-hydroxy-5-methyl-(and 5,6-dimethyl)-6H-pyrido[4,3-b]carbazole-1-N- [(dialkylamino)alkyl]carboxamides, a new promising series of antitumor olivacine derivatives

J Med Chem. 1994 Jul 22;37(15):2445-52. doi: 10.1021/jm00041a024.


Starting from 2-(2-aminoethyl)-6-methoxy-1-methylcarbazole, ethyl 9-methoxy-5-methyl-6H-pyrido[4,3-b]carbazole-1-carboxylate was obtained through a three-step sequence. This compound and its 6-methyl derivative react with (dialkylamino)alkylamines to provide various 9-methoxy-5-methyl-6H-pyrido[4,3-b]carbazole-1-(N-substituted carboxamides) whose boron tribromide demethylation afforded corresponding 9-hydroxy-1-(N-substituted carbamoyl)-olivacines. The same pathway but starting from 2-(2-aminoethyl)-6-methoxy-1,4-dimethylcarbazole led to ethyl 9-methoxy-5,11-dimethyl-6H-pyrido[4,3-b]carbazole-1-carboxylate which did not normally react with amines. It provided either the recovered starting material at 120 degrees C or 9-methoxyellipticine resulting from an unexpected decarboethylation in a steel vessel at 180 degrees C. Biological testing of the newly obtained 1-carbamoylolivacine derivatives showed that 9-hydroxylated compounds displayed high cytotoxicity for cultured L1210 and colon 38 cells (IC50 range 5-10 nM) and good antitumor activity in vivo in the P388 leukemia and colon 38 models when administered by the iv route. The most active compound in these series is 9-hydroxy-5,6-dimethyl-1-[N-[2-(dimethylamino)ethyl]carbamoyl]-6H- pyrido[4,3-b]carbazole which was selected for further evaluation on murine solid tumors and for toxicological studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemical synthesis*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Carbazoles / chemical synthesis*
  • Carbazoles / pharmacology
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ellipticines / chemical synthesis*
  • Ellipticines / pharmacology
  • Leukemia L1210 / pathology
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Carbazoles
  • Ellipticines
  • olivacine