4,6,8,9-Tetramethyl-2H-furo[2,3-h]quinolin-2-one (HFQ) and its isomer FQ (1,4,6,8-tetramethyl-2H-furo[2,3-h]quinolin-2-one) showed very strong antiproliferative activity in mammalian cells, about two times greater than 8-methoxypsoralen (8-MOP). Both compounds induced DNA–protein cross-links (DPC) but not interstrand cross-links. The FQ generated DPC in a biphotonic process, yielding a new kind of diadduct, whereas HFQ induced DPC by a monophotonic one, probably without its physical participation in the covalent bridge. These lesions gave different toxic responses. Sensitization of FQ led to extensive DNA fragmentation and to a number of chromosomal aberrations. Conversely, HFQ seemed to be completely inactive and 8-MOP gave intermediate results. A strict relationship between DPC formation and induction of chromosomal aberrations was observed. The HFQ did not induce light skin erythemas, whereas FQ was more phototoxic than 8-MOP, thus suggesting that FQ lesions, DPC in particular, may be implicated in skin phototoxicity. Ehrlich ascites cells, a transplantable mouse tumor, inactivated by furoquinolinone sensitization and injected into healthy mice, protected them from a successive challenge by viable tumor cells. This response appeared to be based on an immune mechanism. Comparable amounts of base substitution revertants were scored when testing furoquinolinones and 8-MOP in bacteria but no DPC were detected. This suggests that classic mutagenesis tests on bacteria are insufficient to give adequate information on furocoumarin genotoxicity. Given its features, HFQ can be regarded as an interesting new agent for psoralen plus UVA photochemotherapy and photopheresis.
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Vol. 71 • No. 3