From dioxin to drug lead - The development of 2,3,7,8- tetrachlorophenothiazine

Kristian W. Fried, Christopher M. Schneider, Karl Werner Schramm, Apurba Datta, Naima Chahbane, Claudia Corsten, Douglas R. Powell, Dieter Lenoir, Antonius Kettrup, Paul Terranova, Gunda I. Georg, Karl K. Rozman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins are persistent environmental pollutants. The most potent congener, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), causes a wasting syndrome and is a potent carcinogen and immunosuppressant in the rat at high doses. However, low doses cause opposite effects to some of those observed at higher doses, resulting in chemoprevention, stimulation of the immune system, and longevity in experimental animals. The new TCDD analogue, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorophenothiazine (TCPT), was developed to take advantage of the low-dose effects of dioxins that have potential application as therapeutics. Its development marked a deviation from the traditional scope of phenothiazine drug design by deriving biological effects from aryl substituents. TCPT was synthesized in three steps. The key ring-closing step was performed utilizing a Buchwald-Hartwig amination to provide TCPT in 37% yield. Its potency to induce CYP1A1 activity over 24 h was 370 times lower than that of TCDD in vitro. The elimination half-life of the parent compound in serum was 5.4 h in the rat and 2.7 h in the guinea pig, compared to 11 and 30 days, respectively, for TCDD. These initial findings clearly differentiate TCPT from TCDD and provide the basis for further studies of its potential as a drug lead.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)890-897
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 11 2007


  • Dioxin
  • EROD
  • Kinetics
  • Maes-modified Buchwald-Hartwig
  • TCPT


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