Theses Doctoral

Small molecules modulating ferroptosis in disease models

Tan, Hui

Ferroptosis is a regulated junction between cell death, metabolism, and disease, and it hasbeen implicated in many pathologies. The assorted ferroptosis pharmacology modulators offer valuable means to modulate ferroptosis in multiple diseases, to explore disease etiology, and to develop potential therapeutics.

In the first part, the work focuses on inhibiting ferroptosis in a Huntington’s disease model. Ferrostatin-1 (Fer-1) is a potent small-molecule ferroptosis inhibitor that has been adopted to investigate the role of ferroptosis in many disease models. However, its further application is limited by its low potency, poor stability, possible toxicity, and lack of brain penetration. We developed the fourth and fifth generations of ferrostatins and investigated the in vitro and in vivo pharmacokinetics of lead compounds. We identified PHB4082 preferentially accumulating in the kidney as a potential candidate for kidney disease-relevant contexts. Moreover, TH-4-55-2 displayed an excellent brain penetration, preferentially accumulating in the brain at concentrations of magnitude higher than the in vitro IC50 values. In the in vivo toxicity study, it was well-tolerated over 30 days in wild-type and R6/2 mice and exhibited a protective effect against weight loss in a Huntington’s disease model, suggesting it is a strong candidate for application in HD and more neurodegenerative disease models.

The second part describes the efforts to explore the therapeutic potential of inducing ferroptosis in a tumor model. Imidazole ketone erastin (IKE) induced ferroptosis by specifically inhibiting system xc– in a subcutaneous xenograft model of Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL), suggesting the potential of IKE as a therapeutic strategy for cancer. A biodegradable polyethylene glycol-poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticle formulation was used to aid in delivering IKE to cancer cells in vivo, exhibiting improved tumor accumulation and therapeutic index relative to free IKE, indicating its potential for treating DLBCL. In summary, this work explored the possibility to modulate ferroptosis using small molecule modulators in multiple disease models and identified some potential drug candidates and useful chemical probes.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Stockwell, Brent R.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 24, 2023