The Cytotoxicity Profile, Apoptosis Mechanism, and Molecular Docking Studies of a Series of Benzimidazolium Derivative Morpholine-Substituted Ag(I) Heterocyclic Carbene Complexes

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The main problems experienced in treatment with anticancer drugs are undesirable side effects, and toxicity. Minimal side effects for new anticancer compounds may be met due to enhanced efforts to clarify the compound's mechanisms of action. Therefore, we aimed to investigate whether or the cytotoxic effect and apoptosis mechanism of a series Ag(I)NHC complexes on non-small cell lung cancer cell line (A549) and normal lung fibroblast cell line (CCD-19Lu) in this study. The cytotoxicity was determined by using the MTT method, and apoptotic effects were detected by cell cycle, annexin-V/propidium iodide (PI) staining and cell cycle, caspase-3, mitochondrial membrane potential analysis. Molecular docking studies were performed using in silico ADMET analysis, and molecular docking information on the compounds was gained using the DS 3.5 software subprotocol. All the time, the cytotoxic effect of silver compounds was monitored for 24 h in comparison to cisplatin. The apoptotic effect of these compounds increased in cancer cells as compared to normal cells. Complex 3b exhibited the highest cytotoxic activity on cancer cell in 24 and 72 h, but complex 3a exhibited the highest cytotoxic activity on cancer cell s in 48 h. Moreover, all Ag(I)NHC complexes exhibited significant statistical difference depending on the increase in concentration on cancer cells, and all compounds induced apoptosis associated with distributing of membrane polarization and stopping the cell cycle in phase G1 and the caspase-3 activity. Caspase-3 activity of the new Ag(I)NHC compounds showed 8.3 to 17.6-fold increase compared the untreated cells. The loss of mitochondrial membrane potential indicated that JC-1 assay results were 16.9 to17.2-fold higher than normal cells in Ag(I)NHC compounds and 11.3-fold higher her in cisplatin. In addition, molecular docking studies were executed on the Ag(I)NHC complexes, and cisplatin estimate that the binding modes towards the EGFR kinase. Because epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is expressed highly in a great number of epithelial tumors. These findings suggested that Ag(I)NHC complexes exhibited anticancer activity and may be considered to have a new therapeutic potential for human non-small cell lung cancer cell treatment.


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Ag(I)NHC, apoptosis, benzimidazolium, non-small lung cancer cell, morpholine, molecular docking, EGFR, flow cytometry


Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal

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