A small library of "half-sandwich"cyclopentadienylruthenium(II) compounds of the general formula [(η5-C5R5)Ru(PPh3)(N-N)][PF6], a scaffold hitherto absent from the toolbox of antiplasmodials, was screened for activity against the blood stage of CQ-sensitive 3D7-GFP, CQ-resistant Dd2, and artemisinin-resistant IPC5202 Plasmodium falciparum strains and the liver stage of Plasmodium berghei. The best-performing compounds displayed dual-stage activity, with single-digit nanomolar IC50 values against blood-stage malaria parasites, nanomolar activity against liver-stage parasites, and residual cytotoxicity against HepG2 and Huh7 mammalian cells. The parasitic absorption/distribution of 7-nitrobenzoxadiazole-appended fluorescent compounds Ru4 and Ru5 was investigated by confocal fluorescence microscopy, revealing parasite-selective absorption in infected erythrocytes and nuclear accumulation of both compounds. The lead compound Ru2 impaired asexual parasite differentiation, exhibiting fast parasiticidal activity against both ring and trophozoite stages of a synchronized culture of the P. falciparum 3D7 strain. These results point to cyclopentadienylruthenium(II) complexes as a highly promising chemotype for the development of dual-stage antiplasmodials.
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being