The majority of novel chemotherapeutics target the cell cycle, aiming to effect arrest and cause apoptosis. One such agent, 2-methoxyestradiol (2ME), has been shown to possess anticancer properties against numerous cancer types, both in vitro and in vivo. Despite its promise, 2ME has exhibited limitations, including low oral bioavailability and rapid hepatic enzymatic inactivation in vivo. A novel sulphamoylated estrogen analog, 2-ethyl-3-O-sulphamoyl-estra-1,3,5(10)16-tetraene (ESE-16), was in silico-designed in our laboratory to overcome these issues. It was then synthesized by a pharmaceutical company and used in an in vitro antiproliferative effect study on a human cervical carcinoma (HeLa) cell line.
Cell proliferation data obtained from the crystal violet assay and real-time cell analysis demonstrated that 0.2 μM of ESE-16 had a significant inhibitory effect on the HeLa cells 24 h post-exposure. Immunofluorescence showed that ESE-16 is a microtubule disruptor that causes cells to undergo a mitotic block. Qualitative morphological studies using polarization-optical transmitted light differential interference contrast (PlasDIC) and light microscopy revealed a decrease in cell density and an increase in the number of cells arrested in metaphase. After ESE-16 exposure, hallmarks of apoptosis were also observed, including membrane blebbing, chromatin condensation and the presence of apoptotic bodies. Flow cytometry provided quantitative results from cell cycle progression analysis, indicating cells undergoing apoptosis and cells in the G2/M phase of the cell cycle, confirming cell cycle arrest in metaphase after ESE-16 treatment. Quantification of the ESE-16-mediated upregulation of cyclin B in HeLa cells and spectrophotometric and flow cytometric confirmation of cell death via apoptosis further confirmed the substance's impact.
ESE-16 exerts its antiproliferative effects through microtubule disruption, which induces a mitotic block culminating in apoptosis. This research provided information on ESE-16 as a potential antitumor agent and on cellular targets that could aid in the design of prospective microtubule-disrupting compounds. Further in vitro and in vivo investigations of this novel compound are needed.