Phospholipid nucleoside conjugates and nucleosides with chemical additions to the hydroxyl and amino moieties have been used since the 1970s in order to increase the biological activity of the parent compound. Previous investigators have found that adding lipid moieties to ara-C or chemically linking ara-C to a phospholipid creates a prodrug that exhibits superior cytotoxic activity compared to ara-C alone when used in animal tumor models. The novel ara-C molecules reveal different pharmacological profiles from the parent compound such as decreased catabolism by cytidine deaminase, increased plasma half-life, and release of nucleoside monophosphate, a reaction that bypasses the rate limiting initial nucleoside phosphorylation. Additionally, these compounds were able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and were active against tumor cells implanted i.c. The purpose of this review is to briefly cover the history and successes of previous investigators who have synthesized and tested these phospholipid ara-C conjugates, to discuss recent phospholipid ara-C and fludarabine conjugates, and to discuss the synthetic design and synthesis of a novel phospholipid gemcitabine conjugate. These phospholipid nucleoside conjugates possess the potential to have superior anti-neoplastic cytotoxicity profiles with fewer side effects than the parent nucleoside and merit further investigation.
Keywords: synthetic phospholipids, lipid-drug conjugates, antimetabolites, ara-c, gemcitabine, fludarabine
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