Exploring the cellular accumulation of metal complexes

Dalton Trans. 2010 Feb 7;39(5):1159-70. doi: 10.1039/b922209j. Epub 2009 Dec 23.


Transition metal complexes offer great potential as diagnostic and therapeutic agents, and a growing number of biological applications have been explored. To be effective, these complexes must reach their intended target inside the cell. Here we review the cellular accumulation of metal complexes, including their uptake, localization, and efflux. Metal complexes are taken up inside cells through various mechanisms, including passive diffusion and entry through organic and metal transporters. Emphasis is placed on the methods used to examine cellular accumulation, to identify the mechanism(s) of uptake, and to monitor possible efflux. Conjugation strategies that have been employed to improve the cellular uptake characteristics of metal complexes are also described.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Coordination Complexes / chemistry*
  • Coordination Complexes / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Transition Elements / chemistry*


  • Coordination Complexes
  • Transition Elements