Cytotoxic Effects on Breast Cancer Cell Lines of Chalcones Derived from a Natural Precursor and Their Molecular Docking Analysis

Luis Bustos, Carlos Echiburú-Chau, Alejandro Castro-Alvarez, Ben Bradshaw, Mario J. Simirgiotis, Marco Mellado, Claudio Parra, Mauricio Cuellar

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3 Scopus citations


This study aimed to determine the in vitro cytotoxicity and understand possible cytotoxic mechanisms via an in silico study of eleven chalcones synthesized from two acetophenones. Five were synthesized from a prenylacetophenone isolated from a plant that grows in the Andean region of the Atacama Desert. The cytotoxic activity of all the synthesized chalcones was tested against breast cancer cell lines using an MTT cell proliferation assay. The results suggest that the prenyl group in the A-ring of the methoxy and hydroxyl substituents of the B-ring appear to be crucial for the cytotoxicity of these compounds. The chalcones 12 and 13 showed significant inhibitory effects against growth in MCF-7 cells (IC50 4.19 ± 1.04 µM and IC50 3.30 ± 0.92 µM), ZR-75-1 cells (IC50 9.40 ± 1.74 µM and IC50 8.75 ± 2.01µM), and MDA-MB-231 cells (IC50 6.12 ± 0.84 µM and IC50 18.10 ± 1.65 µM). Moreover, these chalcones showed differential activity between MCF-10F (IC50 95.76 ± 1.52 µM and IC50 95.11 ± 1.97 µM, respectively) and the tumor lines. The in vitro results agree with molecular coupling results, whose affinity energies and binding mode agree with the most active compounds. Thus, compounds 12 and 13 can be considered for further studies and are candidates for developing new antitumor agents. In conclusion, these observations give rise to a new hypothesis for designing chalcones with potential cytotoxicity with high potential for the pharmaceutical industry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4387
Issue number14
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Senecio nutans
  • antioxidant
  • bioactive compounds
  • breast cancer
  • cytotoxic
  • molecular docking
  • synthesis


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