Real-time monitoring of etoposide prodrug activated by hydrogen peroxide with improved safety†
Etoposide is one of the most used first-line chemotherapeutic drugs. However, its application is still limited by its side effects. Herein, we designed a novel H2O2 sensitive prodrug 6YT for selectively releasing the anti-cancer drug etoposide in cancer cells. In this paper, etoposide and a hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) sensitive aryl borate ester group were linked by a fluorescent coumarin and finally the prodrug 6YT was generated. The fluorescence of coumarin was quenched before the connected aryl borate ester group was cleaved by H2O2. However, in the high level H2O2 environment of the tumor, the fluorescence could be activated simultaneously with the release of etoposide, and the drug release state of the prodrug was monitored real-time. With the support of 6YT, we obtained direct and visual evidence of etoposide release in a high H2O2 environment both in cells and zebrafish. The prodrug 6YT was also verified with comparable activity and improved safety with etoposide both in cells and in a mouse model. As a safe and effective prodrug, 6YT is expected to be one of the promising candidates in chemotherapy against cancer.