Antiproliferative Activity and Phototoxicity of some Methyl Derivatives of 5-Methoxypsoralen and 5-Methoxyangelicin

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The in vitro antiproliferative activity and in vivo phototoxicity of some methyl derivatives of 5-methoxypsoralen and 5-methoxyangelicin, i.e. 4,4′-dimethyl-5-methoxyangelicin (compound I), 3,4′-dimethyl-5-methoxyangelicin (compound II), 4,4′-dimethyl-5-methoxypsoralen (compound III); and 3,4′-dimethyl-5-methoxypsoralen (compound IV), have been investigated. The effects of the compounds were evaluated in vitro on HL60 and A431 cells, using 5-methoxypsoralen as the reference compound. In both cell lines compound I, II and III showed better antiproliferative activity than compound IV and 5-methoxypsoralen. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that all the compounds induced the formation of blebs and blisters on a A431 cell surface. Significant variations in the nuclear area strictly related to the toxicity of the compounds have been shown in both cell lines. Skin irritancy in vivo was evaluated by mean of histopathological responses on guinea-pig skin. For each compound a damage index was determined by morphometrical analysis of empty spaces in the epidermis. Histopathology revealed skin phototoxicity of compounds which lacked erythemogenic activity by visual scoring. By coupling cytotoxicity data in vitro to skin sensitization ones in vivo, compound I proved a promising candidate for use in clinical trials since due to a high inhibitory effect on the growth of human cell lines coupled to low skin phototoxicity.

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