Exploiting the antiproliferative potential of spiropyrazoline oxindoles in a human ovarian cancer cell line

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Cancer is still one of the deadliest diseases worldwide despite the efforts in its early detection and treatment strategies. However, most chemotherapeutic agents still present side effects in normal tissues and acquired resistance that limit their efficacy. Spiropyrazoline oxindoles might be good alternatives as they have shown antiproliferative activity in human breast and colon cancer cell lines, without eliciting cytotoxicity in healthy cells. However, their potential for ovarian cancer was never tested. In this work, the antiproliferative activity of five spiropyrazoline oxindoles was assessed in ovarian cancer cells A2780 and the biological targets and mechanism of action of the most promising compound evaluated. Compound 1a showed the highest antiproliferative effect, as well as the highest selectivity for A2780 cells compared to healthy fibroblasts. This antiproliferative effect results from the induction of cell death by mitochondria-mediated apoptosis and autophagy. In vitro DNA interaction studies demonstrated that 1a interacts with DNA by groove-binding, without triggering genotoxicity. In addition, 1a showed a strong affinity to bovine serum albumin that might be important for further inclusion in drug delivery platforms. Proteomic studies reinforced 1a role in promoting A2780 endoplasmatic reticulum (ER) stress by destabilizing the correct protein folding which triggers cell death via apoptosis and autophagy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115880
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2021


  • Chemotherapy
  • Compound-DNA interaction
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Spiropyrazoline oxindoles


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