Bifunctional ruthenium(ii) polypyridyl complexes of curcumin as potential anticancer agents†
Ru(II)-polypyridyl complexes have been widely studied and well established for their antitumor properties. Modifications of the coordination environment around the Ru atom through a proper choice of the ligand can lead to different modes of action and result in greatly improved anticancer efficacy. Herein, two Ru(II)-polypyridyl complexes of curcumin were synthesized and characterized as potential anticancer agents. In vitro tests indicated that complexes 1 and 2 displayed excellent antiproliferative activity against the tested cancer cell lines, especially complex 2, which exhibited superior cytotoxicity compared to curcumin and cisplatin. Further biological evaluations demonstrated that complexes 1 and 2 can cause cell apoptosis via DNA interaction and MEK/ERK signaling pathway, which is the first example of a Ru(II)-polypyridyl complex inhibiting the MEK/ERK signaling pathway and DNA intercalation. Overall, this work suggests that coordination with bioactive agents may endow Ru(II)-polypyridyl complexes with improved pharmaceutical properties and synergistic effects for cancer therapy.