Phosphonium Salt Displays Cytotoxic Effects Against Human Cancer Cell Lines

Dhanyalayam Dhanya, Giuseppe Palma, AnnaRita Cappello, Annaluisa Mariconda, Maria Stefania Sinicropi, Francesca Giordano, Vitale Del Vecchio, Anna Ramunno, Claudio Arra, Pasquale Longo, Carmela Saturnino

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Aims/ Objective: Phosphonium salts are compounds whose structural characteristics enable them to cross the plasma and mitochondrial membrane with ease. Cancer cells have higher plasma membrane potentials than normal cells, phosphonium salts selectively accumulate in the mitochondria of neoplastic cells and inhibit mitochondrial function.

METHOD: In the presente work, we investigate the cytotoxic activity of lipophilic phosphonium salt (11-methoxy11-oxo-undecyl) triphenylphosphonium bromide (MUTP) as well as of two new phosphine oxide salts, 3,3'-(methylphosphoryl) dibenzenaminium chloride (SBAMPO) and 3,3' (phenylphosphoryl) dibenzenaminium chloride (SBAPPO) on the proliferation of breast cancer cell line (MCF-7) and human uterin cervix adenocarcinoma cells (HeLa).

RESULT: We show that only MUTP exhibits antiproliferative effects on both cell lines, without affecting normal breast epithelial cell proliferation. More specifically, we demonstrate that MUTP treatment of breast cancer cells is associated with impaired cell-cycle progression and metabolically induces mitochondrial damage and triggers apoptotic cell death in MCF-7 and HeLa cells. Taken together, these findings suggest that MUTP may be capable of selectively targeting neoplastic cell growth and therefore has potential applications as anticancer agent.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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    Dhanya, D., Palma, G., Cappello, A., Mariconda, A., Sinicropi, M. S., Giordano, F., Vecchio, V. D., Ramunno, A., Arra, C., Longo, P., & Saturnino, C. (2017). Phosphonium Salt Displays Cytotoxic Effects Against Human Cancer Cell Lines. Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry.