Palladium(II) complexes are generally reactive toward substitution/reduction, and their biological applications are seldom explored. A new series of palladium(II) N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) complexes that are stable in the presence of biological thiols are reported. A representative complex, [Pd(C^N^N)(N,N'-nBu2 NHC)](CF3 SO3 ) (Pd1 d, HC^N^N=6-phenyl-2,2'-bipyridine, N,N'-nBu2 NHC=N,N'-di-n-butylimidazolylidene), displays potent killing activity toward cancer cell lines (IC50 =0.09-0.5 μm) but is less cytotoxic toward a normal human fibroblast cell line (CCD-19Lu, IC50 =11.8 μm). In vivo anticancer studies revealed that Pd1 d significantly inhibited tumor growth in a nude mice model. Proteomics data and in vitro biochemical assays reveal that Pd1 d exerts anticancer effects, including inhibition of an epidermal growth factor receptor pathway, induction of mitochondrial dysfunction, and antiangiogenic activity to endothelial cells.
Keywords: N-heterocyclic carbenes; anticancer agents; palladium; proteomics; thiol reactivity.
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