Pyrazoloacridine (PZA) is an experimental antitumor agent presently under investigation for treatment of solid tumors on the basis of its unique mechanism of action and selectivity for human solid tumor xenograft in mice. Using capillary electrophoresis coupled with electrospray ionization mass spectrometry, we have identified three oxidative PZA metabolites, 9-desmethyl-PZA, N-demethyl-PZA, and PZA N-oxide. The cytochrome P450 (CYP) isoforms involved in PZA metabolism were characterized by studies with CYP chemical inhibitors, correlation of marker activities for selected CYPs with formation of the metabolites using a human liver panel, and PZA metabolism by cDNA-expressed CYPs. 9-Desmethyl-PZA formation was catalyzed by CYP1A2, whereas N-demethyl-PZA formation was catalyzed by CYP3A4. PZA N-oxide formation was catalyzed by flavin monooxygenase (FMO) rather than CYP, as determined by studies with chemical inhibitors of FMO and metabolism by cDNA-expressed human flavin monooxygenase. After administration of [10b-14C]PZA to mice, six urinary metabolites were detected by high-performance liquid chromatography UV and radiochromatograms including 9-desmethyl-PZA, N-demethyl-PZA, and PZA N-oxide. Trace concentrations of 9-desmethyl-PZA and PZA N-oxide were detected in mouse plasma. PZA N-oxide and N-demethyl-PZA were detected in urine from patients after PZA administration. PZA, 9-desmethyl-PZA, and PZA N-oxide inhibited growth of A375 human melanoma cells. IC50 values were 0.17, 0.11, and 7.0 μM, respectively, for the three molecules.
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