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Trimethoxy-benzaldehyde levofloxacin hydrazone inducing the growth arrest and apoptosis of human hepatocarcinoma cells

Jin-ping Sun12, Zhen-yu Shi1, Shi-meng Liu2, Yu-hua Kang2*, Guo-qiang Hu3, Chao-shen Huangfu1, Jin-bo Deng1 and Bin Liu1*

Author Affiliations

1 College of Nursing, Institute of Neurobiology, Henan University, Kaifeng, China

2 Huaihe Clinical College, Henan University, Kaifeng, China

3 Institute of Chemical Biology, Henan University, Kaifeng, China

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Cancer Cell International 2013, 13:67  doi:10.1186/1475-2867-13-67

Published: 2 July 2013



In order to search for new structural modification strategies on fluoroquinolones, we have designed and synthesized a series of fluoroquinolone derivatives by linking various hydrazine compounds to the C-3 carboxyl group of levofloxacin and assessed their anticancer activities. Several novel levofloxacin derivatives displayed potent cytotoxicity against the tested cancer cell lines in vitro. In the present study, we investigated the effect of 1-Cyclopropyl-6-fluoro-4-oxo-7- piperazin-1, 4-dihydro- quinoline- 3-carboxylic acid benzo [1,3] dioxol-5- ylmethylene- hydrazide (QNT11) on the apoptosis of human hepatocarcinoma cells in vitro.


The inhibition effects of QNT11 on cell proliferation were examined by MTT assay. Cell apoptosis was determined by TUNEL and DNA agarose gel electrophoresis method. The topoisomerase ΙΙ activity was measured by agarose gel electrophoresis using Plasmid pBR322 DNA as the substrate. Cell cycle progression was analyzed using flow cytometry in conjunction with ethanol fixation and propidium iodide staining. Mitochondrial membrane potential (△ψm) was measured by high content screening image system. The caspase-9, caspase-8, caspase-3, Bcl-2, Bax, CDK1, Cyclin B1and cytochrome c protein expressions were detected by Western blot analysis.


QNT11 showed selective cytotoxicity against Hep3B, SMMC-7721, MCF-7 and HCT-8 cell lines with IC50 values of 2.21 μM, 2.38 μM, 3.17 μM and 2.79 μM, respectively. In contrast, QNT11 had weak cytotoxicity against mouse bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) with IC50 value of 7.46 μM. Treatment of Hep3B cells with different concentrations of QNT11 increased the percentage of the apoptosis cells significantly, and agarose gel electrophoresis revealed the ladder DNA bands typical of apoptotic cells, with a decrease in the mitochondrial membrane potential. Compared to the control group, QNT11 could influence the DNA topoisomerase IIactivity and inhibit the religation of DNA strands, thus keeping the DNA in fragments. There was a significant increase of cytochrome c in the cytosol after 24 h of treatment with QNT11 and a decrease in the mitochondrial compartment. Observed changes in cell cycle distribution by QNT11 treated might be caused by insufficient preparation for G2/M transition. In addition, QNT11 increased the protein expression of Bax, caspase-9, caspase-8, caspase-3, as well as the cleaved activated forms of caspase-9, caspase-8 and caspase-3 significantly, whereas the expression of Bcl-2 decreased.


Our results showed that QNT11 as a fluoroquinolone derivative exerted potent and selectively anticancer activity through the mechanism of eukaryotic topoisomerase II poisoning. The growth inhibition was in large part mediated via apoptosis-associated mitochondrial dysfunction and regulation of Bcl-2 signaling pathways.

Fluoroquinolone derivatives; Hepatocarcinoma cell line; DNA topoisomerase II; Mitochondrial dysfunction; Apoptosis