Aryl-urea fatty acids that activate the p38 MAP kinase and down-regulate multiple cyclins decrease the viability of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells

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Journal Article
European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2019, 129 pp. 87 - 98
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© 2019 Elsevier B.V. We recently developed a novel aryl-urea fatty acid (CTU; 16({[4-chloro-3-(trifluoromethyl)phenyl]carbamoyl}amino)hexadecanoic acid) that impaired the viability of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells in vitro and in mouse xenograft models in vivo. At present there is a deficiency of information on the structural requirements for the activity of CTU. Our initial study suggested that electron withdrawing groups were required on the aryl ring, and in this study we further evaluated the influence of the electronic properties of aromatic substitution on the capacity of CTU analogues to decrease MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell viability. Analogues that contained strong electron-withdrawing groups in the meta- and para-positions of the aryl ring exhibited improved activity over CTU. Effective analogues down-regulated the cyclins D1, E1 and B1, and the cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) 4 and 6, that form complexes to coordinate cell cycle progression. Active CTU analogues also stimulated the phosphorylation and activation of the p38 MAP kinase signalling pathway in cells and both decreased proliferation (5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (brdU) incorporation) and activated apoptosis (executioner caspase-3/7 activity). These agents offer a new approach to target the cell cycle at multiple phases in order to efficiently prevent cancer cell expansion. Inclusion of the present structural information in drug design approaches could enhance the development of optimal analogues of aryl-urea fatty acids as potential anti-cancer agents.
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