The rhenium(I)-diselenoether anticancer drug targets ROS, TGF-β1, VEGF-A, and IGF-1 in an in vitro experimental model of triple-negative breast cancers


The rhenium(I)-diselenoether complex (Re-diSe) is a rhenium tricarbonyl-based drug chelated by a diselenoether ligand. In this work, we compared its inhibitory effects on the hormone-independent MDA-MB231cancer line and other different cancer cell lines after an exposure time of 72 h by MTT assays. The sensitivity of MDA-MB231 was in the same range than the hormone-dependent MCF-7 breast cancer, the PC-3 prostate and HT-29 colon cancer cells, while the A549 lung and the HeLa uterine cancer cells were less sensitive. We compared the inhibitory effects of Re-diSe and of its diselenide ligand (di-Se) on MDA-MB231 and a normal HEK-293 human embryonic cell line, after 72 h and 120 h of exposure. The cytotoxicity was also studied by flow cytometry using ethidium bromide assays, as well as the effects on the ROS production by DFCA-test, while the levels of TGF-β1, VEGF-A, IGF-1 were addressed by ELISA tests. The dose required to inhibit 50% of the proliferation (IC50) of MDA-MB231 breast cancer cells decreased with the time of exposure to 120 h, while the free ligand (di-Se) was found poorly active, demonstrating the important role of Re in this Re-diSe combination. The cytotoxic effects of Re-diSe were highly selective for cancer cells, with a significant increase of the number of dead cancer cells at 5 μM for an exposure time of 120 h, while normal cells were not affected. A remarkable and significant decrease of the production of ROS together with a decrease of VEGF-A, TGF-β1, and IGF-1 by the cancer cells were also observed when cancer cells were exposed to Re-diSe.

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Correspondence to Philippe Collery.

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Philippe Collery declares that he is owner of a patent on “Rhenium complexes and their pharmaceutical use ». Vijay Veena, Adhikesavan Harikrishnan and Didier Desmaelec declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Collery, P., Veena, V., Harikrishnan, A. et al. The rhenium(I)-diselenoether anticancer drug targets ROS, TGF-β1, VEGF-A, and IGF-1 in an in vitro experimental model of triple-negative breast cancers. Invest New Drugs 37, 973–983 (2019).

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  • Rhenium(I)-diselenoether
  • Rhenium
  • Selenium
  • Cancer
  • Selectivity
  • ROS
  • VEGF
  • IGF
  • TGF