Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Stanislaw F. Wnuk

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Watson Lees

Third Advisor's Name

Joong-ho Moon

Fourth Advisor's Name

Bruce McCord

Fifth Advisor's Name

Anthony McGoron


Organic synthesis, medicinal chemistry, prodrug, gemcitabine analogue, theranostic, imaging, positron emission tomography

Date of Defense



Gemcitabine is a highly potent chemotherapeutic nucleoside agent used in the treatment of several cancers and solid tumors. However, it is therapeutically limitated because of toxicity to normal cells and its rapid intracellular deamination by cytidine deaminase into the inactive uracil derivative. Modification at the 4-(N) position of gemcitabine's exocyclic amine to an -amide functionality is a well reported prodrug strategy which has been that confers a resistance to intracellular deamination while also altering pharmacokinetics of the parent drug. Coupling of gemcitabine to carboxylic acids with varying terminal moieties afforded the 4-N-alkanoylgemcitabines whereas reaction of 4-N-tosylgemcitabine with the corresponding alkyl amines gave the 4-N-alkylgemcitabines. The 4-N-alkanoyl and 4-N-alkyl gemcitabine analogues with a terminal hydroxyl group on the 4-N-alkanoyl or 4-N-alkyl chain were efficiently fluorinated either with diethylaminosulfur trifluoride or under conditions that are compatible with the synthetic protocols for 18F labeling, such as displacement of the corresponding mesylate with KF/Kryptofix 2.2.2. The 4-N-alkanoylgemcitabine analogues displayed potent cytostatic activities against murine and human tumor cell lines with 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) values in the range of low nM, whereas cytotoxicity of the 4-N-alkylgemcitabine derivatives were in the low to modest µM range. The cytostatic activity of the 4-N-alkanoylgemcitabines was reduced by several orders of magnitude in the 2'-deoxycytidine kinase (dCK)-deficient CEM/dCK- cell line while the 4-N-alkylgemcitabines were only lowered by 2-5 times. None of the 4-N-modified gemcitabines were found to be substrates for cytosolic dCK, however all were found to inhibit DNA synthesis. As such, the 4-N-alkanoyl gemcitabine derivatives likely need to be converted to gemcitabine prior to achieving their significant cytostatic potential, whereas the 4-N-alkylgemcitabines reach their modest activity without "measurable" conversion to gemcitabine. Thus, the 4-N-alkylgemcitabines provide valuable insight on the metabolism of 4-N-modified gemcitabine prodrugs.





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