The issue of food contamination by aflatoxins presently constitutes a social emergency, since they represent a severe risk for human and animal health. On the other hand, the use of pesticides has to be contained, since this generates long term residues in food and in the environment. Here we present the synthesis of a series of chelating ligands based on the thiosemicarbazone scaffold, to be evaluated for their antifungal and antiaflatoxigenic effects. Starting from molecules of natural origin of known antifungal properties, we introduced the thio- group and then the corresponding copper complexes were synthesised. Some molecules highlighted aflatoxin inhibition in the range 67-92% at 100 Î¼M. The most active compounds were evaluated for their cytotoxic effects on human cells. While all the copper complexes showed high cytotoxicity in the micromolar range, one of the ligand has no effect on cell proliferation. This hit was chosen for further analysis of mutagenicity and genotoxicity on bacteria, plants and human cells. Analysis of the data underlined the importance of the safety profile evaluation for hit compounds to be developed as crop-protective agents and at the same time that the thiosemicarbazone scaffold represents a good starting point for the development of aflatoxigenic inhibitors.
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