Targetting cancer with Ru(III/II)-phosphodiesterase inhibitor adducts: a novel approach in the treatment of cancer

Med Hypotheses. 2013 Jun;80(6):841-6. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2013.03.029. Epub 2013 Apr 12.


Lack of specificity and normal tissue toxicity are the two major limitations faced with most of the anticancer agents in current use. Due to effective biodistribution and multimodal cellular actions, during recent past, ruthenium complexes have drawn much attention as next generation anticancer agents. This is because metal center of ruthenium (Ru) effectively binds with the serum transferrin and due to higher concentration of transferrin receptors on the tumor cells, much of the circulating Ru-transferrin complexes are delivered preferentially to the tumor site. This enables Ru-complexes to become tumor cell specific and to execute their anticancer activities in a somewhat targeted manner. Also, there are evidences to suggest that inhibition of phosphodiesterases leads to increased cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) level, which in turn can evoke cell cycle arrest and can induce apoptosis in the tumor cells. In addition, phosphodiesterase inhibition led increased cGMP level may act as a potent vasodilator and thus, it is likely to enhance blood flow to the growing tumors in vivo, and thereby it can further facilitate delivery of the drugs/compounds to the tumor site. Therefore, it is hypothesized that tagging PDE inhibitors (PDEis) with Ru-complexes could be a relevant strategy to deliver Ru-complexes-PDEi adduct preferentially to the tumor site. The Ru-complex tagged entry of PDEi is speculated to initially enable the tumor cells to become a preferential recipient of such adducts followed by induction of antitumor activities shown by both, the Ru-complex & the PDEi, resulting into enhanced antitumor activities with a possibility of minimum normal tissue toxicity due to administration of such complexes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Cyclic GMP / metabolism
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Humans
  • Macromolecular Substances / metabolism
  • Macromolecular Substances / therapeutic use*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Ruthenium Compounds / metabolism
  • Ruthenium Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Transferrin / metabolism


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors
  • Ruthenium Compounds
  • Transferrin
  • Cyclic GMP