Cytotoxic esterified diterpenoid alkaloid derivatives with increase selectivity against a drug-resistant cancer cell line
C-6 Esterifications of delpheline (1) were carried out to provide 20 new diterpenoid alkaloid derivatives (4-22, 24). Three natural alkaloids (1-3) and all synthesized compounds (4-25) were evaluated for cytotoxic activity against lung (A549), prostate (DU145), nasopharyngeal (KB), and vincristine-resistant nasopharyngeal (KB-VIN) cancer cell lines and interestingly, showed an improved drug resistance profile compared to paclitaxel. Particularly, 6-(4-fluoro-3-methylbenzoyl)delpheline (22) displayed 2.6-fold greater potency against KB-VIN cells compared with the parental non-drug resistant KB cells. 6-Acylation of 1 appears to be critical for producing cytotoxic activity in this alkaloid class and a means to provide promising new leads for further development into antitumor agents.