Analysis of ruthenium anticancer agents by MEEKC‐UV and MEEKC–ICP‐MS: Impact of structural motifs on lipophilicity and biological activity

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EarlyView Article

  • Published: Feb 27, 2018
  • Author: Kai Giringer, Hannah U. Holtkamp, Sanam Movassaghi, William D. J. Tremlett, Nelson Y. S. Lam, Mario Kubanik, Christian G. Hartinger


We present here the first comprehensive study on the lipophilicity of ruthenium anticancer agents encompassing compounds with broad structural diversity, ranging from octahedral RuIII(azole) through to RuII(arene) complexes. MEEKC was used to determine the capacity factors of the Ru complexes, and after a complex peak was unambiguously assigned using MEEKC–ICP‐MS, the results were validated through comparison with the log P determined by octanol/water partitioning experiments. Correlation of the two data sets demonstrated a close relationship despite the limited structural overlap of the compounds studied. The capacity factors found by MEEKC allowed for the clustering of complexes based on their structure and this could be used to rationalize the observed cytotoxicity in the human colon carcinoma HCT116 cell line. It was demonstrated that rather than modification of the mono‐ or bidentate coordinated ligands much tighter control over a complexes lipophilic properties could be achieved through modification of the Ru(arene) ligand, with minimal detriment to cytotoxicity. This demonstrates the flexibility and potential of the Ru piano‐stool scaffold. MEEKC proved to be a highly efficient means of screening the anticancer potential of preclinical ruthenium complex candidates for their lipophilic properties and correlate them with their biological activity and structural properties.

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