The first palladium organometallic compounds bearing N-trifluoromethyl N-heterocyclic carbenes have been synthesized. These η3-allyl complexes are potent antiproliferative agents against different cancer lines (for the most part, IC50 values fall in the range 0.02–0.5 μm). By choosing 1,3,5-triaza-7-phosphaadamantane (PTA) as co-ligand, we can improve the selectivity toward tumor cells, whereas the introduction of 2-methyl substituents generally reduces the antitumor activity slightly. A series of biochemical assays, aimed at defining the cellular targets of these palladium complexes, has shown that mitochondria are damaged before DNA, thus revealing a behavior substantially different from that of cisplatin and its derivatives. We assume that the specific mechanism of action of these organometallic compounds involves nucleophilic attack on the η3-allyl fragment. The effectiveness of a representative complex, 4 c, was verified on ovarian cancer tumoroids derived from patients. The results are promising: unlike carboplatin, our compound turned out to be very active and showed a low toxicity toward normal liver organoids.
- N-trifluoromethyl N-heterocyclic carbenes
- ovarian cancer
- palladium allyl complexes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Organic Chemistry