Issue 9, 2014

Multinuclear ruthenium(ii) complexes as anticancer agents


A series of dinuclear ruthenium(II) complexes that contain labile chlorido ligands, [{Ru(tpy)Cl}2{μ-bbn}]2+ {designated Cl-Rubbn; tpy = 2,2′:6′,2′′-terpyridine, bbn = bis[4(4′-methyl-2,2′-bipyridyl)]-1,n-alkane (n = 7, 10, 12, 14 or 16)} and derivatives containing nitro substituents on the tpy ligand and/or secondary amines within the bbn linking chain have been synthesised and their potential as anticancer agents examined. Some of the Cl-Rubbn species showed good anticancer activity against MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell lines, with the Cl-Rubb12 complex being four-times more active than cisplatin. Inclusion of nitro substituents on the tpy ligands of Cl-Rubb12 resulted in significantly decreased anticancer activity. The incorporation of amine groups into the linking ligand did not increase the anticancer activity of the Cl-Rubbn complexes. The Cl-Rubbn complexes and those containing amine groups in the linking chain aquated at approximately the same rate, with 50% aquation within 120 minutes. By comparison, the complexes containing nitro substituents on the tpy ligand aquated extremely slowly, with 60% of the chlorido complex remaining 24 hours after they were dissolved in water. Cyclic voltammetry with the model mononuclear complex [Ru{(NO2)3tpy}(Me2bpy)Cl]+ {(NO2)3tpy = 4,4′,4′′-trinitro-2,2′:6′,2′′-terpyridine} showed that the nitro substituents exerted a strong effect on the ruthenium centre, with the anodic peak corresponding to the Ru(III/II) couple shifted positively by 300 mV compared to that from the non-nitrated parent complex [Ru(tpy)(Me2bpy)Cl]+. 1H NMR studies of the reaction of the Cl-Rubbn complexes with GMP indicated that the ruthenium complexes covalently bound the nucleotide slowly, with 33% bound in 24 hours. However, the results of this study suggest that the cytotoxicity of the dinuclear ruthenium complexes is a combination of covalent and reversible binding with DNA.

Graphical abstract: Multinuclear ruthenium(ii) complexes as anticancer agents

Article information

Article type
10 Apr 2014
25 May 2014
First published
03 Jun 2014
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

New J. Chem., 2014,38, 4049-4059

Author version available

Multinuclear ruthenium(II) complexes as anticancer agents

A. K. Gorle, A. J. Ammit, L. Wallace, F. R. Keene and J. G. Collins, New J. Chem., 2014, 38, 4049 DOI: 10.1039/C4NJ00545G

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. You can use material from this article in other publications without requesting further permissions from the RSC, provided that the correct acknowledgement is given.

Read more about how to correctly acknowledge RSC content.

Social activity