Background: Cancers of the lymphatic cells (lymphomas) account for approximately
12% of malignant diseases worldwide. The nitrostyrene scaffold is identified as a lead target
structure for the development of particularly effective compounds targeting Burkitt's lymphoma
Objectives: The aims of the curent study were to synthesise a panel of nitrostyrene compounds and
to evaluate their activity in Burkitt’s lymphoma (BL).
Methods: A panel of structurally varied compounds were designed and synthesised using Henry
Knoevenagel condensation reactions. Single crystal X-Ray analysis confirmed the E configuration
for six examples of these novel structures. A number of nitrostyrene-related compounds were also
investigated including 1,3-bis(aryl)-2-nitropropenes together with heterocyclic scaffolds containing
the nitrovinyl pharmacophore such as 3-nitro-2-phenyl-2H-chromenes. The antiproliferative
activities of the compounds were evaluated using the BL cell lines EBV- MUTU-1 and EBV+ DG-
75 (chemoresistant) to establish preliminary structure-activity relationships.
Results: Lead compounds with optimized nitrostyrene scaffolds and 3-nitro-2-phenyl-2Hchromene
structures were successfully established with typical IC50 values of 0.45 µM and 0.47
µM in MUTU-1 cells and 1.41 µM and 1.92 µM, respectively, in DG-75 cells. The mechanism of
cell death was identified as apoptotic and the lead compound was found to elicit comparable apoptotic
effects to Taxol in Burkitt's lymphoma cell lines MUTU-1 and DG-75.
Conclusion: This class of pharmaceutically active compounds with potential for the treatment of
Burkitt’s lymphoma suggest a potential role for nitrostyrene based agents in chemotherapy.