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Ruthenium(II) complexes with 6-methyl-2-thiouracil selectively reduce cell proliferation, cause DNA double-strand break and trigger caspase-mediated apoptosis through JNK/p38 pathways in human acute promyelocytic leukemia cells.Ruthenium(II) complexes with 6-methyl-2-thiouracil cis-[Ru(6m2tu)(PPh)] (1) and [Ru(6m2tu)(dppb)] (2) (where PPhtriphenylphosphine; dppb = 1,4-bis(diphenylphosphino)butane; and 6m2tu = 6-methyl-2-thiouracil) are potent cytotoxic agents and able to bind DNA. The aim of this study was to evaluate in vitro cellular underlying mechanism and in vivo effectiveness of these ruthenium(II) complexes in human acute promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells. Both complexes displayed potent and selective cytotoxicity in myeloid leukemia cell lines, and were detected into HL-60 cells. Reduction of the cell proliferation and augmented phosphatidylserine externalization, caspase-3, -8 and -9 activation and loss of mitochondrial transmembrane potential were observed in HL-60 cells treated with both complexes. Cotreatment with Z-VAD(OMe)-FMK, a pan-caspase inhibitor, reduced Ru(II) complexes-induced apoptosis. In addition, both metal complexes induced phosphorylation of histone H2AX (S139), JNK2 (T183/Y185) and p38α (T180/Y182), and cotreatment with JNK/SAPK and p38 MAPK inhibitors reduced complexes-induced apoptosis, indicating DNA double-strand break and activation of caspase-mediated apoptosis through JNK/p38 pathways. Complex 1 also reduced HL-60 cell growth in xenograft model. Overall, the outcome indicated the ruthenium(II) complexes with 6-methyl-2-thiouracil as a novel promising antileukemic drug candidates.
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