With the aim of elucidating the structural requirements for O-demethylation of the antitumor agent VP-16-213 by cytochrome P-450, the binding of a series of podophyllotoxin derivatives to rat liver microsomal cytochrome P-450 was studied. The examined podophyllotoxin derivatives were: VP-16-213, VM-26, podophyllotoxin, 4′-demethylepipodophyllotoxin (the aglycone of VP-16-213 and VM-26) and 3,5-dimethoxy-4-hydroxytoluene (a model compound for the E-ring of VP-16-213). The binding to phenobarbital (Pb)-induced microsomes was more extensive than that to 3-methylcholanthrene (3-MC)-induced microsomes. Experiments on the binding to cytochrome P-450 in Pb-induced microsomes led to the following findings: (a) the presence of the polycyclic skeleton is necessary for binding; (b) the presence of the sugar moiety gives a further extension of binding, and changes in the sugar moiety affect binding; (c) binding increases on elevation of hydrophobicity; (d) the E-ring itself does not bind. For binding to cytochrome P-450 in 3-MC-induced microsomes conclusions (a) and (d) appeared to hold true. For the O-demethylation of the podophyllotoxin derivatives containing the dimethoxyphenol ring by Pb- and 3-MC-induced microsomes, the following order was observed: VM-26 > VP-16-213 > aglycone ≫ E-ring. A similar sequence was observed for the cytotoxicity against Chinese hamster ovary cells.
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