Dipyridophenazine iridium(III) complex as a phototoxic cancer stem cell selective, mitochondria targeting agent

Journal: Chemico-Biological Interactions
Authors: Markova L., Novohradsky V., Kasparkova J., Ruiz J., Brabec V.
Year: 2022
ISBN: 0009-2797


In this work, the mechanism underlying the anticancer activity of a photoactivatable Ir(III) compound of the type [Ir(C^N)2(dppz)][PF6] where C^N = 1-methyl-2-(2′-thienyl)benzimidazole (complex 1) was investigated. Complex 1 photoactivated by visible light shows potent activity against highly aggressive and poorly treatable Rhabdomyosarcoma (RD) cells, the most frequent soft tissue sarcomas of children. This remarkable activity of 1 was observed not only in RD cells cultured in 2D monolayers but, more importantly, also in 3D spheroids, which resemble in many aspects solid tumors and serve as a promising model to mimic the in vivo situation. Importantly, photoactivated 1 kills not only differentiated RD cells but also even more effectively cancer stem cells (CSCs) of RD. One of the factors responsible for the activity of irradiated 1 in RD CSCs is its ability to produce ROS in these cells more effectively than in differentiated RD cells. Moreover, photoactivated 1 caused in RD differentiated cells and CSCs a significant decrease of mitochondrial membrane potential and promotes opening mitochondrial permeability transition pores in these cells, a mechanism that has never been demonstrated for any other metal-based anticancer complex. The results of this work give evidence that 1 has a potential for further evaluation using in vivo models as a promising chemotherapeutic agent for photodynamic therapy of hardly treatable human Rhabdomyosarcoma, particularly for its activity in both stem and differentiated cancer cells.