Synthesis of new hetero-arylidene-9(10H)-anthrone derivatives and their biological evaluation

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New hetero-arylidene-9(10H)-anthrone derivatives (1) were synthesized from reaction of 1,2-dimethyl-3-alkyl imidazolium salts (2) and 9-anthracenecarboxaldehyde. Ion exchange of the anion with dioctyl sulfosuccinate and lithium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide led to the preparation of other derivatives. The antiproliferative effect of the compounds was evaluated in human ovarian (A2780) and colorectal (HCT116) carcinoma cell lines and in normal primary human fibroblasts. Compound 1 presented an antiproliferative effect related to the imidazolium pattern of substitution with compounds having a decyl group at the R-position (1c and 3c) showing the highest cytotoxic activities in all cell lines independently of the counter ion. Compounds 1b and 1c internalize A2780 cancer cells via a passive or an active transport, respectively, inducing A2780 cell death via an extrinsic apoptosis (1b) or intrinsic apoptosis and oncosis (1c). The localization of both compounds in the cytoplasm coupled to the absence of reactive oxygen species (ROS) induction suggest that the mechanisms of toxicity might be different than those of other anthracyclines currently used in chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103849
JournalBioorganic Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Arylidene-anthrone derivatives
  • Cell apoptosis
  • Imidazolium chemistry
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Proliferation inhibition


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