N-heterocyclic carbene complexes of silver and gold as novel tools against breast cancer progression

Carmela Saturnino, Ines Barone, Domenico Iacopetta, Annaluisa Mariconda, Maria Stefania Sinicropi, Camillo Rosano, Antonella Campana, Stefania Catalano, Pasquale Longo, Sebastiano Andò

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Metal carbenic complexes have received considerable attention in both the catalysis and biological fields for their potential applications in cancer and antimicrobial therapies. Results: A small series of new silver and gold N-heterocyclic carbene complexes has been designed and synthesized. Among the tested complexes, one compound was particularly active in inhibiting anchorage-dependent and -independent breast cancer proliferation, and inducing cell apoptosis via a mitochondria-related process. The antitumor activity was associated to the transcriptional activation of the tumor suppressor gene p53 in an Sp1-dependent manner, as evidenced by biological and docking studies. Conclusion: Our results highlight the importance and the versatility of N-heterocyclic carbene complexes of gold and silver as useful tools against breast cancer progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2213-2229
Number of pages17
JournalFuture Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2016


  • breast cancer
  • mitochondria
  • N-heterocyclic carbene complexes
  • p53
  • Sp1
  • transmetallation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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