N-Benzyltetrahydropyridinyl-4,6-dimethoxy phenyl-substituted 2′-hydroxychalcones SJC1–15 were synthesized using Claisen–Schmidt condensation, their structures confirmed by spectral analysis, and their anticancer activity evaluated. To support their biological activity, physicochemical parameters such as lipophilicity and oxidation potential were determined. To assess their relative cytotoxicity, 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay was performed using MCF-7, T-47D, MDA MB-231, HepG2, and Vero cell lines. The cytotoxicity of the chalcones was found to vary with the nature of the ring B substituents. The lipophilicity of the cytotoxic compounds expressed in terms of distribution coefficient was found to lie in the range of 2.4–4.2. Further evaluation of their antioxidant potential revealed antioxidant activity by 2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) diammonium salt (ABTS) radical scavenging assay and irreversible electrochemical reaction with oxidation potential in the range of 0.879–1.048 V. Of the 15 chalcones, SJC4, 5, 9 were selected for further in vitro studies using MCF-7. The compounds exhibited significant apoptotic effect and caused cell cycle arrest at G0/G1 and G2/M phase. Among them, two of the O-alkylated chalcones (SJC5, 9) showing promising activity against hormone-responsive breast cancer cells were evaluated for their in vivo anticancer activity using 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced mammary tumor model. Three-week treatment with the test compounds at oral dosage of 100 mg kg−1 per day significantly improved elevated tumor parameters compared with tumor control. Treatment with chalcone SJC5 (a 2,4,5-trimethoxy derivative) exhibited anticancer effects similar to those of doxorubicin (2 mg kg−1 per week, i.p.) and was free from toxic effects observed with doxorubicin treatment.
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