20 December 2017
Considering that high levels of nitric oxide (NO) exert anti-cancer effect and the derivatives of oleanolic acid (OA) have shown potent anti-cancer activity, new O 2-vinyl diazeniumdiolate-based NO releasing derivatives (5a–l, 11a–l) of OA were designed, synthesized, and biologically evaluated in the present study. These derivatives could release different amounts of NO in liver cells. Among them, 5d, 5i, 5j, 11g, 11h, and 11j released more NO in SMMC-7721 cells and displayed stronger proliferative inhibition against SMMC-7721 and HepG2 cells than OA and other tested compounds. The most active compound 5j showed almost 20-fold better solubility than OA in aqueous solution, released larger amounts of NO in liver cancer cells than that in normal ones, and exhibited potent anti-hepatocellular carcinoma activity but little effect on the normal liver cells. The inhibitory activity against the cancer cells was significantly diminished upon addition of an NO scavenger, suggesting that NO may contribute, at least in part, to the activity of 5j.