A Glucose-Triptolide Conjugate Selectively Targets Cancer Cells under Hypoxia

Emmanuel Datan, Il Minn, Peng Xu, Qing Li He, Hye Hyun Ahn, Biao Yu, Martin G. Pomper, Jun O. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A major hurdle in the treatment of cancer is chemoresistance induced under hypoxia that is characteristic of tumor microenvironment. Triptolide, a potent inhibitor of eukaryotic transcription, possesses potent antitumor activity. However, its clinical potential has been limited by toxicity and water solubility. To address those limitations of triptolide, we designed and synthesized glucose-triptolide conjugates (glutriptolides) and demonstrated their antitumor activity in vitro and in vivo. Herein, we identified a lead, glutriptolide-2 with an altered linker structure. Glutriptolide-2 possessed improved stability in human serum, greater selectivity toward cancer over normal cells, and increased potency against cancer cells. Glutriptolide-2 exhibits sustained antitumor activity, prolonging survival in a prostate cancer metastasis animal model. Importantly, we found that glutriptolide-2 was more potent against cancer cells under hypoxia than normoxia. Together, this work provides an attractive glutriptolide drug lead and suggests a viable strategy to overcome chemoresistance through conjugation of cytotoxic agents to glucose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101536
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 25 2020


  • Cancer
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Medical Biochemistry
  • Medical Substance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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