Novel thiosemicarbazones of the ApT and DpT series and their copper complexes: identification of pronounced redox activity and characterization of their antitumor activity

J Med Chem. 2010 Aug 12;53(15):5759-69. doi: 10.1021/jm100561b.


The novel chelators 2-acetylpyridine-4,4-dimethyl-3-thiosemicarbazone (HAp44mT) and di-2-pyridylketone-4,4-dimethyl-3-thiosemicarbazone (HDp44mT) have been examined to elucidate the structure-activity relationships necessary to form copper (Cu) complexes with pronounced antitumor activity. Electrochemical studies demonstrated that the Cu complexes of these ligands had lower redox potentials than their iron complexes. Moreover, the Cu complexes where the ligand/metal ratio was 1:1 rather than 2:1 had significantly higher intracellular oxidative properties and antitumor efficacy. Interestingly, the 2:1 complex was shown to dissociate to give significant amounts of the 1:1 complex that could be the major cytotoxic effector. Both types of Cu complex showed significantly more antiproliferative activity than the ligand alone. We also demonstrate the importance of the inductive effects of substituents on the carbonyl group of the parent ketone, which influence the Cu(II/I) redox potentials because of their proximity to the metal center. The structure-activity relationships described are important for the design of potent thiosemicarbazone Cu complexes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemical synthesis*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Chelating Agents / chemical synthesis*
  • Chelating Agents / chemistry
  • Chelating Agents / pharmacology
  • Coordination Complexes / chemical synthesis*
  • Coordination Complexes / chemistry
  • Coordination Complexes / pharmacology
  • Copper*
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione Disulfide / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Pyridines / chemical synthesis*
  • Pyridines / chemistry
  • Pyridines / pharmacology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Thiosemicarbazones / chemical synthesis*
  • Thiosemicarbazones / chemistry
  • Thiosemicarbazones / pharmacology


  • 2-acetylpyridine-4,4-dimethyl-3-thiosemicarbazone
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Chelating Agents
  • Coordination Complexes
  • Ligands
  • Pyridines
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Thiosemicarbazones
  • di-2-pyridylketone-4,4-dimethyl-3-thiosemicarbazone
  • Copper
  • Glutathione
  • Glutathione Disulfide