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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2014 May;1315:30-6. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12379. Epub 2014 Feb 24.

Design of intrahepatocyte copper(I) chelators as drug candidates for Wilson's disease.

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Laboratoire Reconnaissance Ionique et Chimie de Coordination, Université Joseph Fourier-Grenoble 1/CEA/Institut Nanoscience et Cryogénie/SCIB, Grenoble, France.


Wilson's disease is an autosomal recessive disease caused by mutations on the ATP7B gene found on chromosome 13. Since the corresponding ATPase is in charge of copper (Cu) distribution and excretion in the liver, its malfunctioning leads to Cu overload. This short review deals with treatments of this rare disease, which aim at decreasing Cu toxicity and are, therefore, based on chelation therapy. The drugs used since the 1950s are described first, then a novel approach developed in our laboratory is presented. Since the liver is the main organ of Cu distribution in the body, we targeted the pool of intracellular Cu in hepatocytes. This Cu pool is in the +1 oxidation state, and therefore soft sulfur ligands inspired from binding sites found in metallothioneins were developed. Their targeting to the hepatocytes by functionalization with ligands of the asialoglycoprotein receptor led to their cellular incorporation and intracellular Cu chelation.


Wilson's disease; copper(I); hepatic cells; sulfur ligands

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