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J Inorg Biochem. 2008 Oct;102(10):1839-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2008.05.010. Epub 2008 Jun 4.

Metal compounds for the treatment of parasitic diseases.

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Genzyme Corporation, 49 New York Avenue, P.O. Box 9322, Framingham, MA 01701-9322, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Inorg Biochem. 2009 May;103(5):869.


The cysteine proteases of the trypanosomatid parasitic protozoa have been validated as targets for chemotherapy of Chagas' disease and leishmaniasis. Metal complexes of gold, platinum, iridium, palladium, rhodium and osmium have been reported to have activity against a variety of trypanosomatids, but the molecular target of these compounds has not been defined. The activity of gold(III) and palladium(II) cyclometallated complexes, and oxorhenium(V) complexes against mammalian and parasitic cysteine proteases was investigated. All gold(III) complexes (1-6) inhibited cathepsin B with IC(50) values in the range of 0.2-1.4 microM. Of the six palladium compounds, aceto[2,6-bis[(butylthio-kappa S)methyl]phenyl-kappa C]-, (SP-4-3)-palladium(II) (11) was the most potent inhibitor of cathepsin B with an IC(50) of 0.4 microM. A clear structure-activity relationship was observed with the oxorhenium(V) complexes with chloro[2,2'-(thio-kappa S)bis[ethanethiolato-kappa S)]] oxorhenium(V) (16) being the most potent inhibitor of cathepsin B with an IC(50) of 0.009 microM. Six complexes were further tested against the parasite cysteine proteases, cruzain from T. cruzi, and cpB from L. major; the most potent inhibitors were the two rhenium complexes (2(1H)-pyridinethionato-kappa S(2))[2,6-bis[(mercapto-kappa S)methyl]pyridine-kappa N(1)] oxorhenium(V) (15) and chloro[2,2'-(thio-kappa S)bis[ethanethiolato-kappa S)]] oxorhenium(V) (16). The compounds were also evaluated in assays for parasite growth. Two oxorhenium(V) compounds ((p-methoxyphenylthiolato-S)[2,6-bis[(mercapto-kappa S)methyl]pyridine-kappa N(1)] oxorhenium(V) (14) and (methanethiolato)[2,2'-(thio-kappa S)bis[ethanethiolato-kappa S)]] oxorhenium (V) (18)) and the palladium compound 11 inhibited T. cruzi intracellular growth, and compound 11 inhibited promastigote growth in three Leishmania species. In conclusion this preliminary data indicates that metal complexes targeted at parasite cysteine proteases show promise for the treatment of both Chagas' disease and leishmaniasis.

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