Synthesis, characterization, in vitro antimicrobial and anticancer studies of new platinum N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) complexes and unexpected nickel complexes

Kar Bee Choo, Sui Mae Lee, Wai Leng Lee, Yuen Lin Cheow

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    A series of bidendate pyridine-functionalized metal N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) complexes with various wingtip substituents (R = methyl, phenyl and tert-butyl) had been prepared from silver oxide-mediated transmetalation method. The basic backbone of the NHC ligands were prepared in two stepwise reactions: reduction of the commercially available 2-benzoylpyridine, followed by halogenation to yield 2-(chloro(phenyl)methyl)pyridine. Subsequent reactions with different imidazoles gave the desired imidazolium salts (or NHC precursors) with different R groups at the N wingtip (R = Me, Ph, t-Bu). Transmetalation of the imidazolium salts into platinum NHC complexes were achieved by using Ag2O mediated method with Pt(cod)Cl2 as the transmetalating agent. On the other hand, nickel NHC complexes were obtained via one pot synthesis method with nickel chloride as the transmetalating agent and reflux in the presence of a base. Following recrystallisation, the molecular structure of Pt NHC complex ( ± )-5a had been successfully elucidated via single crystal X ray diffraction (XRD) analysis. The six-membered ring of the platinum NHC complexes adopted a boat conformation with the phenyl ring arranged at the axial position. Meanwhile, two unexpected nickel complexes, i.e. a simple nickel coordination complex and a nickelate complex, were obtained and studied using XRD. These Pt NHC complexes and unexpected Ni complexes were evaluated for their in vitro antimicrobial and anticancer activities against a panel of pathogenic microorganisms and three selected human cancer cell lines, including breast (MCF7), colon (HCT116) and oral (H103) cancer cells. Generally, the Pt NHC complexes displayed enhanced antimicrobial activities upon coordination to metals, as compared to the corresponding imidazolium salts i.e. NHC precursors, with minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values in micromolar (μM) range. A couple of platinum NHC complexes synthesized exhibited antimicrobial activities with MIC as low as 2 μM, which are comparable to silver NHC complexes with renowned antimicrobial profiles. Similarly, upon coordination to the metals, the cytotoxic effects of the platinum NHC complexes increased significantly as compared to the imidazolium salts. Among all, platinum NHC complex (±)-5c displayed significant cytotoxicities towards the cancer cells with IC50 values that are two to three times lower than that of the anticancer drug cisplatin. In summary, evidences for influence of both wingtip substituents and metals on the biological activities of the complexes have been found.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number120868
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Organometallic Chemistry
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2019


    • Antimicrobial
    • Cytotoxicity
    • N-heterocyclic carbene
    • Nickel complexes
    • Platinum NHC complexes

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