Bis[pyrrolyl Ru(ii)] triads: a new class of photosensitizers for metal–organic photodynamic therapy†
A new family of ten dinuclear Ru(II) complexes based on the bis[pyrrolyl Ru(II)] triad scaffold, where two Ru(bpy)2 centers are separated by a variety of organic linkers, was prepared to evaluate the influence of the organic chromophore on the spectroscopic and in vitro photodynamic therapy (PDT) properties of the compounds. The bis[pyrrolyl Ru(II)] triads absorbed strongly throughout the visible region, with several members having molar extinction coefficients (ε) ≥ 104 at 600–620 nm and longer. Phosphorescence quantum yields (Φp) were generally less than 0.1% and in some cases undetectable. The singlet oxygen quantum yields (ΦΔ) ranged from 5% to 77% and generally correlated with their photocytotoxicities toward human leukemia (HL-60) cells regardless of the wavelength of light used. Dark cytotoxicities varied ten-fold, with EC50 values in the range of 10–100 μM and phototherapeutic indices (PIs) as large as 5400 and 260 with broadband visible (28 J cm−2, 7.8 mW cm−2) and 625 nm red (100 J cm−2, 42 mW cm−2) light, respectively. The bis[pyrrolyl Ru(II)] triad with a pyrenyl linker (5h) was especially potent, with an EC50 value of 1 nM and PI > 27 000 with visible light and subnanomolar activity with 625 nm light (100 J cm−2, 28 mW cm−2). The lead compound 5h was also tested in a tumor spheroid assay using the HL60 cell line and exhibited greater photocytotoxicity in this more resistant model (EC50 = 60 nM and PI > 1200 with 625 nm light) despite a lower dark cytotoxicity. The in vitro PDT effects of 5h extended to bacteria, where submicromolar EC50 values and PIs >300 against S. mutans and S. aureus were obtained with visible light. This activity was attenuated with 625 nm red light, but PIs were still near 50. The ligand-localized 3ππ* state contributed by the pyrenyl linker of 5h likely plays a key role in its phototoxic effects toward cancer cells and bacteria.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2020 Chemical Science HOT Article Collection