, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 765–781 | Cite as

The effect of 1:2 Ag(I) thiocyanate complexes in MCF-7 breast cancer cells

  • Eloise Ferreira
  • Appollinaire Munyaneza
  • Bernard Omondi
  • Reinout Meijboom
  • Marianne J. CronjéEmail author


There is much interest currently in the design of metal compounds as drugs and various metal compounds are already in clinical use. These include gold(I) compounds such as auranofin and the anti-cancer platinum(II) complex, cisplatin. Bis-chelated gold(I) phosphine complexes have also shown great potential as anticancer agents, however, their efficacy has been limited by their high toxicity. In this study, silver(I) thiocyanate compounds linked to four specific ligands, were synthesized and characterized. These silver-phosphine adducts included [AgSCN{P(4-MeC6H4)3}2]2 (1); [AgSCN{P(4-ClC6H4)3}2]2 (2); [AgSCN{P(4-MeOC6H4)3}2]2 (3); [AgSCN(PPh3)2]2 (4). The compounds were found to be toxic to MCF-7 breast cancer cells while the ligands on their own were not toxic. Our findings further indicate that the silver(I) phosphine compounds induce apoptotic cell death in these breast cancer cells. In addition, the compounds were not toxic to nonmalignant fibroblast cells at the IC50 concentrations. This is an indication that the compounds show selectivity towards the cancer cells.


Silver-phosphine complexes Apoptosis Flow-cytometry MCF-7 breast cancer cells Anti-cancer Drug discovery 



Carbon 13 NMR


Deuterated chloroform


Cis-diamine-dichloro platinum (cisplatin)


Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulphur elemental analysis


Dimethyl sulfoxide


Fluorescein isothiocyanate


Proton NMR


Half maximal inhibitory concentration


Infra red spectrometry


J-coupling constant


Leiomyosarcoma cell


Melting point


Nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry


Phosphorous 31 NMR


Propidium iodide






Standard error of the mean



This work is based on the research supported in the part by the National Research Foundation of South Africa (Grant specific unique reference number (UID 85386)). We would like also to thank the University of Johannesburg for funding.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eloise Ferreira
    • 1
  • Appollinaire Munyaneza
    • 2
  • Bernard Omondi
    • 2
  • Reinout Meijboom
    • 2
  • Marianne J. Cronjé
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryUniversity of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry, Research Centre for Synthesis and CatalysisUniversity of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa

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