The development of a targeted and more potent, anti-Inflammatory derivative of colchicine: Implications for gout Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Colchicine is routinely used for its anti-inflammatory properties to treat gout and Familial Mediterranean fever. More recently, it was also shown to be of therapeutic benefit for another group of diseases in which inflammation is a key component, namely, cardiovascular disease. Whilst there is considerable interest in repurposing this alkaloid, it has a narrow therapeutic index and is associated with undesirable side effects and drug interactions. We, therefore, developed a derivatives of colchicine that preferentially target leukocytes to increase their potency and diminish their side effects. The anti-inflammatory activity of the colchicine derivatives was tested in experimental models of neutrophil activation by the etiological agent of gout, monosodium urate crystals (MSU). METHODS: Using a rational drug design approach, the structure of colchicine was modified to increase its affinity for βVI-tubulin, a colchicine ligand preferentially expressed by immune cells. The ability of the colchicine analogues with the predicted highest affinity for βVI-tubulin to dampen neutrophil responses to MSU was determined with in vitro assays that measure MSU-induced production of ROS, release of IL-1 and CXCL8/IL-8, and the increase in the concentration of cytoplasmic calcium. The anti-inflammatory property of the derivatives was assessed in the air pouch model of MSU-induced inflammation in mice. RESULTS: The most effective compound generated, CCI, is more potent than colchicine in all the in vitro assays. It inhibits neutrophil responses to MSU in vitro at concentrations 10-100-fold lower than colchicine. Similarly, in vivo, CCI inhibits the MSU-induced recruitment of leukocytes at a 10-fold lower concentration than colchicine when administered prior to or after MSU. CONCLUSIONS: We provide evidence that colchicine can be rendered more potent atinhibiting MSU-induced neutrophil activation and inflammation using a rational drug design approach. The development of compounds such as CCI will provide more efficacious drugs that will not only alleviate gout patients of their painful inflammatory episodes at significantly lower doses than colchicine, but also be of potential therapeutic benefit for patients with other diseases treated with colchicine.


  • Pare, Guillaume
  • Vitry, Julien
  • Marceau, François
  • Vaillancourt, Myriam
  • Winter, Philip
  • Bachelard, Hélène
  • Naccache, Paul H
  • Tuszynski, Jack A
  • Fernandes, Maria J

publication date

  • October 2020

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