In the field of pharmaceuticals there is an increasing need for new delivery systems to overcome the issues of solubility, penetration, toxicity and drug resistance. One of the possible strategies is to use biocarriers such as proteins to encourage the cell-penetration of drugs. In this paper, the use of the apo-protein neocarzinostatin (apo-NCS) as a carrier-protein for two Cu(II) glycocomplexes, previously characterized, and Cu(II) ions was investigated. Its interactionwith the metallic compoundswas analyzed using microcalorimetry. The dissociation constants were shown to be in the micromolar range. The Cu(II) glycocomplexes, in absence of apo-NCS, were found to be cytotoxic in the U937 and HT29 cell lines whereas the corresponding glycoligands showed no toxicity. The leukemic cell line (U937) seems to be more sensitive to glycocomplexes than the colon cancer cell line (HT29). Interestingly, apo-NCS was shown to increase systematically the antiproliferative activity by a factor of 2 and 3 for Cu(II) glycocomplexes and Cu(II) respectively. The antiproliferative activity detected was not related to proteasome inhibition. This result stresses the importance of new molecular tools for the delivery of Cu(II) to tumor cells using non-covalent association with carriers proteins.
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