An anti-metastatic drug, NAMI-A ((ImH)[Ru(III) Cl4 (Im)(dmso)]; Im=imidazole, dmso=S-bound dimethylsulfoxide), and a cytotoxic drug, KP1019 ((IndH)[Ru(III) Cl4 (Ind)2 ]; Ind=indazole), are two Ru-based anticancer drugs in human clinical trials. Their reactivities under biologically relevant conditions, including aqueous buffers, protein solutions or gels (e.g, albumin, transferrin and collagen), undiluted blood serum, cell-culture medium and human liver (HepG2) cancer cells, were studied by Ru K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). These XAS data were fitted from linear combinations of spectra of well-characterised Ru compounds. The absence of XAS data from the parent drugs in these fits points to profound changes in the coordination environments of Ru(III) . The fits point to the presence of Ru(IV/III) clusters and binding of Ru(III) to S-donor groups, amine/imine and carboxylato groups of proteins. Cellular uptake of KP1019 is approximately 20-fold higher than that of NAMI-A under the same conditions, but it diminishes drastically after the decomposition of KP1019 in cell-culture media, which indicate that the parent complex is taken in by cells through passive diffusion.
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