Assessment of hypoxoside and its derivatives as anti-cancer drugs.
Extracts of the African potato have long been believed to have anti-cancer properties. The aim of the current research was to isolate hypoxoside (HYP) from Hypoxis hemerocallidea (African potato) and synthesize the dimethyl (DMH) and decaacetyl (DAH) derivatives and to test their selective cytotoxicity on a model consisting of a normal (MCF10A) and premalignant, invasive breast epithelial cells (MCF10A-NeoT). Hypoxoside was extracted from the H. hemerocallidea corms using ethanol, purified using a C-18 reverse phase column and the compound examined by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and high-resolution mass spectrometry and found to be of high purity. This was also the case for the synthesized compounds. To assess possible selective effects (cytotoxicity) of derivatized and underivatized hypoxoside, effects on the metabolism of premalignant and normal cells were assessed using the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-5-(3- carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-sulfophenyl)-2H-tetrazolium (MTS) assay. Effects on cell number (total counts) and cell death [trypan blue and propidium iodide (PI) staining for dead cells versus a lack of staining for live cells] were, thereafter, assessed. Imaging of live adherent cells was also carried out using acridine orange (AO) and PI for live and dead cells (respectively). Propidium iodide staining of detached cells was carried out for flow cytometric determination of cell death (PI indicating early apoptotic or late apoptotic/necrotic cells). After treatment of normal (MCF10A) breast epithelial cells and premalignant cHa-rastransfected (MCF10A-NeoT) derivative breast epithelial cells with HYP, DMH and the DAH derivative, the MTS assay and the Duncan‟s multiple range, analysis of variance (ANOVA) post hoc analysis of the MTS results revealed that only the 150 and 300 µM DAH derivative had a statistically significant effect on the metabolic activity of the abnormal cell line relative to the dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and revealed no significant effect on the normal MCF- 10A cell line after treatment with any of the test compounds. Supravital PI staining of adherent cells seemed to indicate a far higher rate of induction of cell death in abnormal cells than evident in the MTS assay and the PI-based flow cytometry or the trypan blue exclusion assays and need re-investigating, though result trends were similar. Total cell counts, show that HYP and its derivatives appear to increase both cancer and normal cell proliferation significantly, except in the case of DAH at 150 and 300 μM in the MCF10A-NeoT, without affecting the MCF-10A cell line. The trypan blue method for detection of cell death, together with total cell counts, the Duncan‟s analysis of MTS results and a 24 hour exposure to test compounds, seems to constitute an optimal system for drug screening and indicates the statistically significant selective toxicity of the DAH compound at 150 and 300 μM in the MCF10A-NeoT, suggesting that the DAH derivative at 150 and 300 µM would have significant, selective therapeutic potential on Ras-related malignancies.