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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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Ru(II)-thymine complex causes DNA damage and apoptotic cell death in human colon carcinoma HCT116 cells mediated by JNK/p38/ERK1/2 via a p53-independent signaling.

Ru(II)-thymine complex [Ru(PPh)(Thy)(bipy)]PF (where PPh = triphenylphosphine, Thy = thyminate and bipy = 2,2'-bipyridine) is a potent cytotoxic agent with ability to bind to DNA, inducing caspase-mediated apoptosis in leukemia cells. In this study, we investigated the mechanism underlying the cell death induction by Ru(II)-thymine complex in human colon carcinoma HCT116 cells, as well as its effect in xenograft tumor model. The Ru(II)-thymine complex increased significantly the percentage of apoptotic HCT116 cells. Co-treatment with a JNK/SAPK inhibitor, p38 MAPK inhibitor and MEK inhibitor, which inhibit the activation of ERK1/2, caused a marked reduction of the percentage of complex-induced apoptotic cells. Moreover, the Ru(II)-thymine complex induced an increase in phospho-JNK2 (T183/Y185), phospho-p38α (T180/Y182) and phospho-ERK1 (T202/Y204) levels in HCT116 cells. Treatment with the Ru(II)-thymine complex increased significantly the phospho-histone H2AX (S139) expression, a DNA damage marker. The expression of phospho-p53 (S15) and MDM2 were not changed, and the co-treatment with a p53 inhibitor (cyclic pifithrin-α) did not reduce the complex-induced apoptosis in HCT116 cells, indicating that the Ru(II)-thymine complex induces DNA damage-mediated apoptosis by JNK/p38/ERK1/2 via a p53-independent signaling. The Ru(II)-thymine complex (1 and 2 mg/kg/day) also inhibited HCT116 cell growth in a xenograft model, reducing the tumor mass at 32.6-40.1%. Altogether, indicate that the Ru(II)-thymine complex is a promising anti-colon cancer drug candidate.

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