PhenolaTi is a promising Ti(IV) anticancer complex, with high stability and cytotoxicity, without notable toxic side-effects. Its cellular mechanism was proposed to relate to ER stress. Herein, we investigated the downstream effects of this mode of action in two cancer cell lines: ovarian carcinoma A2780 and cervical adenocarcinoma HeLa. First, although Ti(IV) is a non-redox metal, the formation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) was detected with live-cell imaging. Then, we inspected the effect of the mitochondrial ROS on cytotoxicity, using two methods: (a) addition of compounds that either elevate or reduce the mitochondrial glutathione concentration, thus affecting the oxidative state of the cells; and (b) scavenging mitochondrial ROS. Unlike the results observed for cisplatin, neither method influenced the cytotoxicity of phenolaTi, implying that ROS formation was a mere side effect of its activity. Additionally, live cell imaging displayed the hypoxia induced by phenolaTi, which can be associated with ROS formation. Overall, the results support the notion that ER-stress is the main cellular mechanism of phenolaTi, leading to hypoxia and mitochondrial ROS. The distinct mechanism of phenolaTi, which is different from that of cisplatin, combined with its stability and favorable anticancer properties, altogether make it a strong chemotherapeutic drug candidate.
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- Anticancer metallodrugs
- Endoplasmic reticulum stress
- Reactive oxygen species