meso-(p-acetamidophenyl)-calixpyrrole 3 was found to exhibit remarkable cytotoxicity towards A549 cancer cells. A comparative study including the isomer of 3meso-(m-acetamidophenyl)-calixpyrrole 5, as well as molecules containing ‘fragments’ of these structures, demonstrated that both the calixpyrrole and the acetamidophenyl units are essential for high cytotoxicity. Although calixpyrroles and other anion-complexing ionophores have recently been reported to induce apoptosis by perturbing cellular chloride concentrations, in our study an alternative mechanism has emerged, as proven by the isolation of covalent DNA adducts revealed by the 32P postlabelling technique. Preliminary pharmacokinetic studies indicate that 3 is able to cross the Blood-Brain-Barrier, therefore being a potential drug that could kill primary and brain metastatic cancer cells simultaneously.
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