Chemistry (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany)

Anti-cancer iron(II) complexes of pentadentate N-donor ligands: cytotoxicity, transcriptomics analyses, and mechanisms of action.

PMID 25521517


Two cytotoxic iron(II) complexes [Fe(L)(CH3 CN)n ](ClO4 )2 (L=qpy for Fe-1 a, Py5 -OH for Fe-2 a) were synthesized. Both complexes are stable against spontaneous demetalation and oxidation in buffer solutions. Cyclic voltammetry measurements revealed the higher stability of Fe-2 a (+0.82 V vs Fc) against Fe(II) to Fe(III) oxidation than Fe-1 a (+0.57 V vs Fc). These two complexes display potent cytotoxicity at micromolar level against a panel of cancer cell lines (Fe-1 a=0.8-3.1 μM; Fe-2 a=0.6-3.4 μM), and induce apoptosis that involves caspase activation. Transcriptomic and Connectivity Map analyses revealed that the changes of gene expression induced by Fe-1 a and Fe-2 a are similar to that induced by ciclopirox, an antifungal compound whose mode of action involves formation of intracellular cytotoxic iron chelates. Both Fe-1 a and Fe-2 a caused cellular nuclear DNA damage, as revealed by Comet assay and H2 AX immunofluorescence experiments. The cytotoxicity is associated with production of reactive oxygen species (for Fe-1 a), cell cycle regulation, and stress kinase pathways. The relative contributions of these to the overall cytotoxic mechanism is significantly affected by the structure of penta-N-donor ligand.