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Curr Med Chem. 2018 Feb 12;25(4):437-461. doi: 10.2174/0929867324666170529125229.

Cyclometalated Complexes of Platinum and Gold with Biological Properties: State-of-the-Art and Future Perspectives.

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School of Chemistry, Cardiff University, Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3AT, United Kingdom.
Molecular Catalysis, Department of Chemistry, Catalysis Research Center, Technische Universitat Munchen, Lichtenbergstr. 4, 85747 Garching bei Munchen, Germany.



The inherent problems accompanying chemotherapy necessitate the development of new anticancer approaches. The development of compounds that can disrupt cancerous cellular machinery by novel mechanisms, via interactions with proteins and non-canonical DNA structures (e.g. G-quadruplexes), as well as by alteration of the intracellular redox balance, is nowadays focus of intense research. In this context, organometallic compounds of the noble metals Pt and Au have become prominent experimental therapeutic agents. This review provides an overview of the Pt(II) and Au(III) cyclometalated compounds with a chelating ring containing a strong C-M σ -bond to improve the stability of the compounds with respect to ligand exchange reactions and biological reduction. Furthermore, these properties can be easily tuned by modification of either the anionic cyclometalated or the ancillary ligands. Special focus has been set to C^N, C^N^C, C^N^N and C^N^S platinum(II) and gold(III) pincer complexes regarding their synthesis and biological mechanisms of action as anticancer agents.


A structured search of both chemical and medicinal databases for peerreviewed research literature has been conducted. The quality of retrieved papers was appraised using standard tools. The synthesis as well as the chemical and biological properties of the described compounds were carefully reviewed and described. The findings were outlined using a conceptual framework.


In this review we included 155 papers, the majority originating from high-impact papers on the synthesis and biological modes of platinum(II) and gold(III) compounds. Among them, 17 papers were highlighted to give an introduction to the use of Pt and Au compounds with medicinal properties, mainly focussing on coordination compounds. The synthesis and medicinal properties of organometallic compounds of various metals (such as Fe, Ru, Ti) were outlined in 51 papers. These compounds included metallocenes, metallo- arenes, metallo-carbonyls, metallo-carbenes (e.g. N-heterocyclic carbenes), and alkynyl complexes. The C^N, C^N^C, C^N^N and C^N^S pincer complexes of platinum( II) (46 papers) and gold(III) (44 papers) were discussed concerning their synthesis, stability and advantages to develop therapeutic compounds. We strove to show the consistent development of C^N, C^N^C, C^N^N and C^N^S platinum(II) and gold(III) pincer complexes regarding their synthesis and biological modes from the early beginnings to the most recent findings.


This review supplies a profound overview of the development of organometallic compounds for medicinal purposes, setting special focus to the synthesis and stability of C^N, C^N^C, C^N^N and C^N^S pincer complexes of platinum(II) and gold(III) and their use as anticancer agents.


Organometallic; anticancer agents.; cancer therapy; cyclometalation; gold; platinum

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