Synthesis, Characterization and in vitro Studies of a Cathepsin B-Cleavable Prodrug of the VEGFR Inhibitor Sunitinib.

Research paper by Claudia C Karnthaler-Benbakka, Bettina B Koblmüller, Marlene M Mathuber, Katharina K Holste, Walter W Berger, Petra P Heffeter, Christian R CR Kowol, Bernhard K BK Keppler

Indexed on: 20 Dec '18Published on: 20 Dec '18Published in: Chemistry & Biodiversity


Since several decades, the prodrug concept has raised considerable interest in cancer research due to its potential to overcome common problems associated with chemotherapy. However, for small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors, which also cause severe side effects, hardly any strategies to generate prodrugs for therapeutic improvement have been reported so far. Here, we present the synthesis and biological investigation of a cathepsin B-cleavable prodrug of the VEGFR inhibitor sunitinib. Cell viability assays and Western blot analyses revealed, that, in contrast to the non-cathepsin B-cleavable reference compound, the prodrug shows activity comparable to the original drug sunitinib in the highly cathepsin B-expressing cell lines Caki-1 and RU-MH. Moreover, a cathepsin B cleavage assay confirmed the desired enzymatic activation of the prodrug. Together, the obtained data show that the concept of cathepsin B-cleavable prodrugs can be transferred to the class of targeted therapeutics, allowing the development of optimized tyrosine kinase inhibitors for the treatment of cancer. © 2018 The Authors. Published by Wiley-VHCA AG, Zurich, Switzerland.