Structure-activity relationship of verapamil analogs and reversal of multidrug resistance

G. Toffoli, F. Simone, G. Corona, M. Raschack, B. Cappelletto, M. Gigante, M. Boiocchi

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We studied the relationship between the chemical structure and multidrug resistance (MDR) reversal activity of racemic verapamil (VER) and 14 VER analogs (VAs). The LoVo-R human colon carcinoma cell line was used as an experimental model. This cell line exhibited a typical MDR phenotype and overexpressed the MDR1 gene products. Key structural features were identified as being related to MDR reversal and cytotoxic activity. In particular, we demonstrated that the methoxy groups in the VER molecule structure [1.7-Bis-(3.4-dimethoxyphenyl) -3-methylaza-7-cyan-8-methyl-nonane] prevented cytotoxicity when the VAs were used alone, whereas the 7-cyan-8-methyl groups were important for MDR reversal activity and interaction with P-glycoprotein (P-gp). Among the VAs tested, the most active compounds were gallopamil, R-isomer of VER (R-VER), and nor-VER, which potentiated doxorubicin (DOX) cytotoxicity by 52.3 ± 7.2 (n = 3 ± SD), 38.9 ± 6.4 (n = 4 ± SD), and 35.4 ± 4.3 (n = 3 ± SD) times, respectively. The reversal activity of these compounds was similar to that of VER, which enhanced DOX cytotoxicity by 41.3 ± 5.0 (n = 3 ± SD) times. The potentiation of DOX cytotoxicity was associated with an increase in DOX uptake in LoVo-R cells and with an increased [3H]azidopine P-gp photolabeling inhibition. Some compounds that had a high reversal potency (i.e. R-VER and nor-VER) showed a lower calcium antagonist activity than VER, and seem useful candidates for the treatment of MDR in cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1245-1255
Number of pages11
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 12 1995


  • multidrug resistance
  • P-glycoprotein
  • verapamil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology


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