Metal-NHC complexes for anti-cancer applications : gold(I) for antimitochondrial activity and iridium(III) for photodynamic therapy

Abstract : In this work of thesis, several groups of novel NHC-based gold(I) complexes containing aliphatic and aromatic amino-side arms with interesting potential in biomedical applications have been synthesized and fully characterized. Also, a series of iridium(III) complexes containing NHC ligands with pronounced PDT anticancer activities has been prepared and fully characterized. The first group represents a family of cationic bis(NHC)-gold(I) complexes containing aliphatic amino-side arms. These complexes have been synthesized and investigated for their antiproliferative activities towards four human cancer cell lines and the non-cancerous MDCK cell line. In this series, the lipophilicity correlates directly with the cytotoxic activity against cancer cells. The second family of compounds concerns cationic gold(I) bis(NHC) complexes containing aromatic amino-side arms. The in vitro cytotoxicity of these complexes and proligands on the representative PC-3 prostate and T24 bladder cancer cell lines has been evaluated. All these complexes show higher Log P values (lipophilicity) than the first series of complexes, and in line with this higher cytotoxicity, nevertheless too high lipophilicity can also lead to lower selectivity. In order to develop a drug candidate with optimized activity and selectivity, we designed and synthesized the third family of cationic gold(I) bis(NHC) complexes. The Log P values of this series were between the first series and the second series. The lower cytotoxicity towards non-cancerous NIH3T3 cells was found for this series of complexes whereas they also displayed less activities towards cancer cells than the second series. The mechanistic studies on two gold complexes by monitoring the cellular uptake showed the rapid cellular accumulation of the intact gold bis(NHC) and a good bioavailability, in good agreement with the antiproliferative activity of these two complexes. Moreover, both complexes inhibit TrxR, a common target for gold(I) complexes. The cell death induced by these two complexes was ROS-dependent. Besides anticancer activities, we also tested gold(I) mono-NHC complexes for other biomedical applications in parasite disease Leishmaniasis. They were screened in vitro against both promastigote and axenic amastigote forms of L. infantum. Moreover, their cytotoxicity was evaluated on the murine J774A.1 macrophages in order to determine their selectivity of action. Another topic of this thesis concerns iridium(III)-NHC complexes. Three families of theranostic iridium(III)-NHC complexes were prepared and characterized. The in vitro cytotoxicity of all the complexes against PC-3 prostate, T24 bladder cancer cells and non-cancerous NIH3T3 cells was evaluated. Moreover, all complexes are theranostic agents, and the confocal microscopy experiments of one complex showed that it can be quickly and effectively taken up into PC-3 cells and specifically localize into mitochondria. Interestingly, these complexes can act as efficient photosensitizers. The cytotoxicity of these complexes was increased substantially upon 365 nm light irradiation, which suggested the high potential to be mitochondria-targeting theranostic anticancer agents for photodynamic therapy.
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Chen Zhang. Metal-NHC complexes for anti-cancer applications : gold(I) for antimitochondrial activity and iridium(III) for photodynamic therapy. Coordination chemistry. Université Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018TOU30129⟩. ⟨tel-02146373⟩

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