American Chemical Society
ic8b02634_si_001.pdf (1.18 MB)

From Catalysis to Cancer: Toward Structure–Activity Relationships for Benzimidazol-2-ylidene-Derived N‑Heterocyclic-Carbene Complexes as Anticancer Agents

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-11-07, 21:51 authored by Nelson Y. S. Lam, Dianna Truong, Hilke Burmeister, Maria V. Babak, Hannah U. Holtkamp, Sanam Movassaghi, Daniel Moscoh Ayine-Tora, Ayesha Zafar, Mario Kubanik, Luciano Oehninger, Tilo Söhnel, Jóhannes Reynisson, Stephen M. F. Jamieson, Christian Gaiddon, Ingo Ott, Christian G. Hartinger
The promise of the metal­(arene) structure as an anticancer pharmacophore has prompted intensive exploration of this chemical space. While N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) ligands are widely used in catalysis, they have only recently been considered in metal complexes for medicinal applications. Surprisingly, a comparatively small number of studies have been reported in which the NHC ligand was coordinated to the RuII(arene) pharmacophore and even less with an OsII(arene) pharmacophore. Here, we present a systematic study in which we compared symmetrically substituted methyl and benzyl derivatives with the nonsymmetric methyl/benzyl analogues. Through variation of the metal center and the halido ligands, an in-depth study was conducted on ligand exchange properties of these complexes and their biomolecule binding, noting in particular the stability of the M–CNHC bond. In addition, we demonstrated the ability of the complexes to inhibit the selenoenzyme thioredoxin reductase (TrxR), suggested as an important target for anticancer metal–NHC complexes, and their cytotoxicity in human tumor cells. It was found that the most potent TrxR inhibitor diiodido­(1,3-dibenzylbenzimidazol-2-ylidene)­(η6-p-cymene)­ruthenium­(II) 1bI was also the most cytotoxic compound of the series, with the antiproliferative effects in general in the low to middle micromolar range. However, since there was no clear correlation between TrxR inhibition and antiproliferative potency across the compounds, TrxR inhibition is unlikely to be the main mode of action for the compound type and other target interactions must be considered in future.