Three new ruthenium(II)-arene halido complexes, [(η6-p-cymene) RuX(L)] (1–3), were synthesized in a reaction of [(η6-p-cymene)RuX2]2 with 5-chloro-1H-benzimidazole-2-carboxylic acid (HL) in ethanol
(X– = Cl– (1), Br– (2), I– (3)). The complexes were characterized by elemental analysis, mass spectrometry, IR, 1H and 13C NMR spectroscopy. The cytotoxic activity of the ligand precursor
and its ruthenium complexes was tested by MTT assay in human cancer cell lines: lung adenocarcinoma (A549), myelogenous leukemia (K562) as well as in one normal human fetal lung fibroblast cell line (MRC-5). The results show that ruthenium(II)-arene complexes possess enhanced cytotoxicity
when compared to HL in the range of concentrations up to 300 µM. In terms of halido ligand substitution, cytotoxic activity toward A549 and K562 cell lines in 1–3 serie significantly increased (e.g., IC50 values for K562: 1: 205.76 µM; 2: 174.77
µM; 3: 83.97 µM). All studied compounds were found to be ineffective toward MRC-5. Hydrolysis of 1–3 was followed by UV-vis spectroscopy at 25 °C, revealing ligand-substitution reactions at the Ru(II) center. Compounds 2 and 3 underwent
rapid hydrolysis ranging from a few minutes for the aquation to ca. 20 min, confirming typical Ru-arene behavior in aqueous solutions.
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