Anticancer and antimicrobial metallopharmaceutical agents based on palladium, gold, and silver N-heterocyclic carbene complexes

Sripama Ray, Renu Mohan, Jay K. Singh, Manoja Samantaray, Mobin M. Shaikh, Dulal Panda*, Prasenjit Ghosh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

535 Scopus citations


Complete synthetic, structural, and biomedical studies of two Pd complexes as well as Au and Ag complexes of 1-benzyl-3-tert-butylimidazol-2-ylidene are reported. Specifically, trans-[1-benzyl-3-tert-butylimidazol-2-ylidene] Pd(pyridine)Cl2 (1a) was synthesized from the reaction of 1-benzyl-3-tert-butylimidazolium chloride (1) with PdCl2 in the presence of K2CO3 as a base. The other palladium complex, [1-benzyl-3-tert-butylimidazol-2-ylidene]2PdCl2 (1b), and a gold complex, [1-benzyl-3-tert-butylimidazol-2-ylidene]AuCl (1c), were synthesized by following a transmetallation route from the silver complex, [1-benzyl-3-tert-butylimidazol-2-ylidene]AgCl (1d), by treatment with (COD)PdCl2 and (SMe2)AuCl, respectively. The silver complex 1d in turn was synthesized by the reaction of 1 with Ag2O. The molecular structures of 1a-d have been determined by X-ray diffraction studies. Biomedical studies revealed that, while the palladium complexes 1a and 1b displayed potent anticancer activity, the gold (1c) and silver (1d) complexes exhibited significant antimicrobial properties. Specifically, 1b showed strong antiproliferative activity against three types of human tumor cells, namely, cervical cancer (HeLa), breast cancer (MCF-7), and colon adenocarcinoma (HCT 116), in culture. The antiproliferative activity of 1b was found to be considerably stronger than that of cisplatin. The 1b complex inhibited tumor cell proliferation by arresting the cell cycle progression at the G2 phase, preventing the mitotic entry of the cell. We present evidence suggesting that the treated cells underwent programmed cell death through a p53-dependent pathway. Though both the gold (1c) and silver (1d) complexes showed antimicrobial activity toward Bacillus subtilis, 1c was found to be ca. 2 times more potent than 1d.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15042-15053
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number48
StatePublished - Dec 5 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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