The rationale of designing compounds containing a (3,4,5-trimethoxybenzyloxy) phenyl moiety is largely due to its potential antioxidant and cytotoxic activities. A previous study focused on its antioxidant mechanism, whereas in this study, we investigated the cytotoxicity of a series of 28 analogues and the mechanism of apoptosis of the most cytotoxic compound against wild-type (HCT-116) and p53 mutant (HT-29) colorectal cancer cell lines. The series of analogues comprise of different families, namely hydrazone, oxadiazole, thiosemicarbazides and triazoles. In the initial cytotoxicity screening, N-(3,4,5-trimethoxybenzylidene)-4-(3,4,5-trimethoxybenzyloxy) benzohydrazide, henceforth known as, P5H, was found to be most cytotoxic against human colorectal cancer cell lines (IC50 for HCT-116 = 11.79 μM and HT-29 = 18.52 μM). Additionally, P5H was found to have some degree of selectivity towards cancer cells compared to normal human colon cells (CCD-112 CoN). Subsequent investigation had brought insight on P5H ability to induce apoptosis in both HCT-116 and HT-29 cell lines. Cell cycle analysis showed both cell lines were arrested at the G2/M phase upon treatment. Our study concluded that P5H induced the death receptor, DR5 in HCT-116 and mitochondria-mediated apoptosis pathway in HT-29. Therefore, P5H may be a promising candidate as a chemotherapy agent against colon cancer. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].
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