In radiation therapy, adverse side effects are often induced due to the excessive cell death that occurs in radiosensitive normal cells. The radiation-induced cell death of normal cells is caused, at least in part, by apoptosis, which undergoes via activation of p53 and increase in the p53 protein, a zinc-containing transcriptional factor, in response to cellular damage. Therefore, radioprotective drugs that can protect normal cells from radiation and thus suppress adverse side effects would be highly desirable. We report herein on the radioprotective activity of 8-hydroxyquinoline (8HQ) derivatives that were initially designed so as to interact with the Zn 2+ in p53. Indeed, the 5,7-bis(methylaminosulfonyl)-8HQ and 8-methoxyquinoline derivatives considerably protected MOLT-4 cells against γ-ray radiation (10 Gy), accompanied by a low cytotoxicity. However, mechanistic studies revealed that the interaction of these drugs with p53 is weak and the mechanism for inhibiting apoptosis appears to be different from that of previously reported radioprotectors such as bispicen, which inhibits apoptosis via the denaturation of p53 as well as by blocking both transcription-dependent and -independent apoptotic pathways.
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