Conformationally restricted analogues of 1N,12N-bisethylspermine: synthesis and growth inhibitory effects on human tumor cell lines

J Med Chem. 1998 Nov 19;41(24):4723-32. doi: 10.1021/jm980172v.


Eight analogues of 1N,12N-bisethylspermine (BES) with restricted conformations were synthesized in the search for new spermine mimetics with cytotoxic activities. By replacing the central butane segment of BES with a 1,2-disubstituted cyclopropane ring, a pair of cis/trans-isomers was obtained that introduced a spatial constraint in the otherwise freely mobile butane chain. An analogous pair of isomers was obtained when the butane segment was replaced with a 1, 2-disubstituted cyclobutane ring or with a 2-butene residue. The six new BES analogues thus obtained (three pairs of cis/trans-isomers) were growth inhibitory at low-micromolar concentrations against four human tumor cell lines (A549, HT-29, U251MG, and DU145) but were less growth inhibitory against two other human tumor cell lines (PC-3 and MCF7). 1N,12N-Bisethylspermyne, where the central butane segment of BES was replaced by the rigid 2-butyne segment, was devoid of growth inhibitory activity against five of the six human cell lines studied (DU145 being the only exception), a clear indication of the importance of conformational mobility at the 4N, 9N-butane segment of BES for its biological activity. When the butane segment was replaced by a benzene-1,2-dimethyl residue, the resulting BES analogue was devoid of growth inhibitory activity despite its cisoid conformation. The cytotoxicity of the analogues does not seem to be directly related to their uptake by the cells or to their effects on cellular polyamine levels. BES analogues with restricted conformations but which contained the equivalent of a two-carbon unit, rather than the natural four-carbon unit, at the central segment, such as 1,2-diaminocyclopropyl or 1, 2-diaminocyclobutyl derivatives, were devoid of growth inhibitory effects at the concentrations studied. The development of conformationally restricted polyamine analogues appears to show promise in the further quest for polyamine-related therapeutic agents with specificity of action.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemical synthesis*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Humans
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Spermine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Spermine / chemical synthesis*
  • Spermine / chemistry
  • Spermine / pharmacology
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Spermine