Cytotoxic Activity and Structure Activity Relationship of Ceramide Analogs in Caki-2 and HL-60 Cells

B13, a ceramide analogue, is a ceramidase inhibitor and induces apoptosis to give potent anticancer activity. A series of thiourea B13 analogues was evaluated for their in vitro cytotoxic activities against human renal cancer Caki-2 and leukemic cancer HL-60 in the MTT assay. Some compounds (12, 15, and 16) showed stronger cytotoxicity than B13 and C6-ceramide against both tumor cell lines, and compound (12) gave the most potent activity with IC50 values of 36 and 9 µM, respectively. Molecular modeling of thiourea B13 analogues was carried out by comparative molecular field analysis (CoMFA) and comparative molecular similarity indices analysis (CoMSIA). We obtained highly reliable and predictive CoMSIA models with cross-validated q2 values of 0.707 and 0.753 and CoMSIA contour maps to show the structural requirements for potent activity. These data suggest that the amide group of B13 could be replaced by thiourea, that the stereochemistry of 1,3-propandiol may not be essential for activity and that long alkyl chains increase cytotoxicity.