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Fialho, L, Araújo D, Alves VD, Roma-Rodrigues C, Baptista PV, Fernandes AR, Freitas F, Reis MAM.  2021.  Cation-mediated gelation of the fucose-rich polysaccharide FucoPol: preparation and characterization of hydrogel beads and their cytotoxicity assessment, 2021. International Journal of Polymeric Materials and Polymeric Biomaterials. 70(2):90-99. AbstractWebsite
Raposo, LR, Silva A, Silva D, Roma-Rodrigues C, Espadinha M, Baptista PV, Santos MMM, Fernandes AR.  2021.  Exploiting the antiproliferative potential of spiropyrazoline oxindoles in a human ovarian cancer cell line, 2021. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry. 30:115880. AbstractWebsite

Cancer is still one of the deadliest diseases worldwide despite the efforts in its early detection and treatment strategies. However, most chemotherapeutic agents still present side effects in normal tissues and acquired resistance that limit their efficacy. Spiropyrazoline oxindoles might be good alternatives as they have shown antiproliferative activity in human breast and colon cancer cell lines, without eliciting cytotoxicity in healthy cells. However, their potential for ovarian cancer was never tested. In this work, the antiproliferative activity of five spiropyrazoline oxindoles was assessed in ovarian cancer cells A2780 and the biological targets and mechanism of action of the most promising compound evaluated. Compound 1a showed the highest antiproliferative effect, as well as the highest selectivity for A2780 cells compared to healthy fibroblasts. This antiproliferative effect results from the induction of cell death by mitochondria-mediated apoptosis and autophagy. In vitro DNA interaction studies demonstrated that 1a interacts with DNA by groove-binding, without triggering genotoxicity. In addition, 1a showed a strong affinity to bovine serum albumin that might be important for further inclusion in drug delivery platforms. Proteomic studies reinforced 1a role in promoting A2780 endoplasmatic reticulum (ER) stress by destabilizing the correct protein folding which triggers cell death via apoptosis and autophagy.

Kordestani, N, Rudbari HA, Fernandes AR, Raposo LR, Baptista PV, Ferreira D, Bruno G, Bella G, Scopelliti R, Braun JD, Herbert DE, Blacque O.  2020.  Antiproliferative Activities of Diimine-Based Mixed Ligand Copper(II) Complexes, 2020. ACS Comb Sci. 22(2):89-99. AbstractWebsite

A series of Cu(diimine)(X-sal)(NO3) complexes, where the diimine is either 2,2'-bipyridine (bpy) or 1,10-phenanthroline (phen) and X-sal is a monoanionic halogenated salicylaldehyde (X = Cl, Br, I, or H), have been synthesized and characterized by elemental analysis and X-ray crystallography. Penta-coordinate geometries copper(II) were observed for all cases. The influence of the diimine coligands and different halogen atoms on the antiproliferative activities toward human cancer cell lines have been investigated. All Cu(II) complexes were able to induce a loss of A2780 ovarian carcinoma cell viability, with phen derivatives more active than bpy derivatives. In contrast, no in vitro antiproliferative effects were observed against the HCT116 colorectal cancer cell line. These cytotoxicity differences were not due to a different intracellular concentration of the complexes determined by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy. A small effect of different halogen substituents on the phenolic ring was observed, with X = Cl being the most highly active toward A2780 cells among the phen derivatives, while X = Br presented the lowest IC50 in A2780 cells for bpy analogs. Importantly, no reduction in normal primary fibroblasts cell viability was observed in the presence of bpy derivatives (IC50 > 40 muM). Mechanistically, complex 1 seems to induce a stronger apoptotic response with a higher increase in mitochondrial membrane depolarization and an increased level of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) compared to complex 3. Together, these data and the low IC50 compared to cisplatin in A2780 ovarian carcinoma cell line demonstrate the potential of these bpy derivatives for further in vivo studies.

Oliveira, B, Veigas B, Fernandes AR, Aguas H, Martins R, Fortunato E, Baptista PV.  2020.  Fast Prototyping Microfluidics: Integrating Droplet Digital Lamp for Absolute Quantification of Cancer Biomarkers, 2020. Sensors (Basel). 20(6) AbstractWebsite

Microfluidic (MF) advancements have been leveraged toward the development of state-of-the-art platforms for molecular diagnostics, where isothermal amplification schemes allow for further simplification of DNA detection and quantification protocols. The MF integration with loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) is today the focus of a new generation of chip-based devices for molecular detection, aiming at fast and automated nucleic acid analysis. Here, we combined MF with droplet digital LAMP (ddLAMP) on an all-in-one device that allows for droplet generation, target amplification, and absolute quantification. This multilayer 3D chip was developed in less than 30 minutes by using a low-cost and extremely adaptable production process that exploits direct laser writing technology in "Shrinky-dinks" polystyrene sheets. ddLAMP and target quantification were performed directly on-chip, showing a high correlation between target concentration and positive droplet score. We validated this integrated chip via the amplification of targets ranging from five to 500,000 copies/reaction. Furthermore, on-chip amplification was performed in a 10 microL volume, attaining a limit of detection of five copies/microL under 60 min. This technology was applied to quantify a cancer biomarker, c-MYC, but it can be further extended to any other disease biomarker.

Roma-Rodrigues, C, Rivas-Garcia L, Baptista PV, Fernandes AR.  2020.  Gene Therapy in Cancer Treatment: Why Go Nano?, 2020 Pharmaceutics. 12(3) AbstractWebsite

The proposal of gene therapy to tackle cancer development has been instrumental for the development of novel approaches and strategies to fight this disease, but the efficacy of the proposed strategies has still fallen short of delivering the full potential of gene therapy in the clinic. Despite the plethora of gene modulation approaches, e.g., gene silencing, antisense therapy, RNA interference, gene and genome editing, finding a way to efficiently deliver these effectors to the desired cell and tissue has been a challenge. Nanomedicine has put forward several innovative platforms to overcome this obstacle. Most of these platforms rely on the application of nanoscale structures, with particular focus on nanoparticles. Herein, we review the current trends on the use of nanoparticles designed for cancer gene therapy, including inorganic, organic, or biological (e.g., exosomes) variants, in clinical development and their progress towards clinical applications.

Ferreira, D, Fontinha D, Martins C, Pires D, Fernandes AR, Baptista PV.  2020.  Gold Nanoparticles for Vectorization of Nucleic Acids for Cancer Therapeutics, 2020. Molecules. 25(15) AbstractWebsite

Cancer remains a complex medical challenge and one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Nanomedicines have been proposed as innovative platforms to tackle these complex diseases, where the combination of several treatment strategies might enhance therapy success. Among these nanomedicines, nanoparticle mediated delivery of nucleic acids has been put forward as key instrument to modulate gene expression, be it targeted gene silencing, interference RNA mechanisms and/or gene edition. These novel delivery systems have strongly relied on nanoparticles and, in particular, gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have paved the way for efficient delivery systems due to the possibility to fine-tune their size, shape and surface properties, coupled to the ease of functionalization with different biomolecules. Herein, we shall address the different molecular tools for modulation of expression of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes and discuss the state-of-the-art of AuNP functionalization for nucleic acid delivery both in vitro and in vivo models. Furthermore, we shall highlight the clinical applications of these spherical AuNP based conjugates for gene delivery, current challenges, and future perspectives in nanomedicine.

Roma-Rodrigues, C, Pombo I, Fernandes AR, Baptista PV.  2020.  Hyperthermia Induced by Gold Nanoparticles and Visible Light Photothermy Combined with Chemotherapy to Tackle Doxorubicin Sensitive and Resistant Colorectal Tumor 3D Spheroids, 2020. Int J Mol Sci. 21(21) AbstractWebsite

Current cancer therapies are frequently ineffective and associated with severe side effects and with acquired cancer drug resistance. The development of effective therapies has been hampered by poor correlations between pre-clinical and clinical outcomes. Cancer cell-derived spheroids are three-dimensional (3D) structures that mimic layers of tumors in terms of oxygen and nutrient and drug resistance gradients. Gold nanoparticles (AuNP) are promising therapeutic agents which permit diminishing the emergence of secondary effects and increase therapeutic efficacy. In this work, 3D spheroids of Doxorubicin (Dox)-sensitive and -resistant colorectal carcinoma cell lines (HCT116 and HCT116-DoxR, respectively) were used to infer the potential of the combination of chemotherapy and Au-nanoparticle photothermy in the visible (green laser of 532 nm) to tackle drug resistance in cancer cells. Cell viability analysis of 3D tumor spheroids suggested that AuNPs induce cell death in the deeper layers of spheroids, further potentiated by laser irradiation. The penetration of Dox and earlier spheroid disaggregation is potentiated in combinatorial therapy with Dox, AuNP functionalized with polyethylene glycol (AuNP@PEG) and irradiation. The time point of Dox administration and irradiation showed to be important for spheroids destabilization. In HCT116-sensitive spheroids, pre-irradiation induced earlier disintegration of the 3D structure, while in HCT116 Dox-resistant spheroids, the loss of spheroid stability occurred almost instantly in post-irradiated spheroids, even with lower Dox concentrations. These results point towards the application of new strategies for cancer therapeutics, reducing side effects and resistance acquisition.

Fernandes, AR, Mendonça-Martins I, Santos MFA, Raposo LR, Mendes R, Marques J, Romão CC, Romão MJ, Santos-Silva T, Baptista PV.  2020.  Improving the Anti-inflammatory Response via Gold Nanoparticle Vectorization of CO-Releasing Molecules, 2020. ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering. 6(2):1090-1101. AbstractWebsite
Choroba, K, Raposo LR, Palion-Gazda J, Malicka E, Erfurt K, Machura B, Fernandes AR.  2020.  In vitro antiproliferative effect of vanadium complexes bearing 8-hydroxyquinoline-based ligands - the substituent effect, 2020. Dalton Trans. 49(20):6596-6606. AbstractWebsite

This is the first comprehensive study demonstrating the antiproliferative effect of vanadium complexes bearing 8-hydroxyquinoline (quinH) ligands, including the parent and -CH3 (Me), -NO2, -Cl and -I substituted ligands, on HCT116 and A2780 cancer cell lines. To determine the structure-cytotoxicity relationships seven six-coordinate oxovanadium(v) complexes [VO(OMe)(5,7-(Me)2-quin)2] (1), [VO(OMe)(5,7-Cl2-quin)2] (2), [VO(OMe)(5,7-Cl,I-quin)2] (3), [VO(OMe)(5,7-I2-quin)2] (4), [VO(OMe)(5-NO2-quin)2] (5), [VO(OMe)(5-Cl-quin)2] (6), and [VO(OMe)(quin)2] (7) were investigated. The cytotoxicity of 8-hydroxyquinoline oxovanadium(v) complexes is higher in the A2780 cell line (lower IC50) than that observed for the widely used chemotherapeutic agent, cisplatin, while displaying low cytotoxicity for normal human primary fibroblasts. Substituents introduced into the 8-hydroxyquinoline backbone reduced the antiproliferative effect of the vanadium complexes, and the complexes with the ligand substituted only in the 5 position (5 and 6) were more cytotoxic than those with substituents in the 5,7 positions of the quin backbone (1-4). Depending on the substituent type, the cytotoxicity of 1-4 followed the trend: -Cl > -CH3 > -I. Incubation of A2780 cancer cells with IC50 concentrations of complexes 5, 6 and 7 promoted cellular detachment, possibly through membrane destabilization, and triggered apoptosis and necrosis. ROS production might be responsible for the cell death mechanism observed particularly in the A2780 cells exposed to complexes 5 and 6.

Beola, L, Asin L, Roma-Rodrigues C, Fernandez-Afonso Y, Fratila RM, Serantes D, Ruta S, Chantrell RW, Fernandes AR, Baptista PV, de la Fuente JM, Grazu V, Gutierrez L.  2020.  The Intracellular Number of Magnetic Nanoparticles Modulates the Apoptotic Death Pathway after Magnetic Hyperthermia Treatment, 2020. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 12(39):43474-43487. AbstractWebsite

Magnetic hyperthermia is a cancer treatment based on the exposure of magnetic nanoparticles to an alternating magnetic field in order to generate local heat. In this work, 3D cell culture models were prepared to observe the effect that a different number of internalized particles had on the mechanisms of cell death triggered upon the magnetic hyperthermia treatment. Macrophages were selected by their high capacity to uptake nanoparticles. Intracellular nanoparticle concentrations up to 7.5 pg Fe/cell were measured both by elemental analysis and magnetic characterization techniques. Cell viability after the magnetic hyperthermia treatment was decreased to <25% for intracellular iron contents above 1 pg per cell. Theoretical calculations of the intracellular thermal effects that occurred during the alternating magnetic field application indicated a very low increase in the global cell temperature. Different apoptotic routes were triggered depending on the number of internalized particles. At low intracellular magnetic nanoparticle amounts (below 1 pg Fe/cell), the intrinsic route was the main mechanism to induce apoptosis, as observed by the high Bax/Bcl-2 mRNA ratio and low caspase-8 activity. In contrast, at higher concentrations of internalized magnetic nanoparticles (1-7.5 pg Fe/cell), the extrinsic route was observed through the increased activity of caspase-8. Nevertheless, both mechanisms may coexist at intermediate iron concentrations. Knowledge on the different mechanisms of cell death triggered after the magnetic hyperthermia treatment is fundamental to understand the biological events activated by this procedure and their role in its effectiveness.

Amendoeira, A, García LR, Fernandes AR, Baptista PV.  2020.  Light Irradiation of Gold Nanoparticles Toward Advanced Cancer Therapeutics, 2020. 3(1):1900153. AbstractWebsite

Abstract Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world. To challenge this epidemic, there are growing demands for the development of new advanced and targeted therapeutics capable of effectively tackling cancer cells with improved selectivity. Nanomedicine has put forward several innovative therapeutics toward improving therapeutic efficacy while decreasing the deleterious side effects of current chemotherapy. Multifunctional gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have been at the core of a plethora of advanced therapeutic strategies that provide selective targeting with their unique optical properties, capable to interact with the light of specific wavelength to deliver therapy with tremendous spatiotemporal precision. AuNPs have been exploited as photodynamic and photothermal therapeutic agents alone or in combination with other cancer treatment modalities with other cancer applications. Due to their exceptional physicochemical properties, they have been proven efficacious allies for photodynamic therapy and for photothermal therapy regimens. Herein, the rapidly progressing literature related to the use of these promising strategies against cancer is discussed, highlighting their possible future clinical translation.

Restani, RB, Pires RF, Baptista PV, Fernandes AR, Casimiro T, Bonifácio VDB, Aguiar-Ricardo A.  2020.  Nano-in-Micro Sildenafil Dry Powder Formulations for the Treatment of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Disorders: The Synergic Effect of POxylated Polyurea Dendrimers, PLGA, and Cholesterol, 2020. 37(6):1900447. AbstractWebsite

Abstract POXylated polyurea dendrimer nanoparticles (PUREG4OOx48) are loaded with sildenafil (SDF) by a supercritical carbon dioxide–assisted (scCO2) impregnation. Further supercritical CO2-assisted spray drying (SASD) leads to hybrid nano-in-micro dry powder formulations that are investigated aiming at efficient pulmonary delivery of SDF in pulmonary arterial hypertension treatment. This is the first report of the production of poly(D,L-lactide-co-glycolide)-cholesterol (PLGA-Chol) microparticles processed by SASD. The optimized formulation of nano-in-microparticles is composed of PLGA, Chol, and PUREG4OOx48, loaded with SDF solutions in a 77:23 ratio (PLGA-Chol:dendrimer, w/w). The dry powders are fully characterized and found to be highly biodegradable and biocompatible, and the SDF release profile evaluates under different pH values. The median mass average diameter (MMAD) of the nano-in-micro systems varies between 2.57 and 5 µm and the fine particle fraction (FPF) between 36% and 29% for PUREG4OMeOx48[PLGA-Chol] and PUREG4OEtOx48[PLGA-Chol], respectively. The data validate the potential use of these new formulations in inhalation therapy. In vitro studies are also carried out in order to evaluate the effect of the free drug in cell viability and formulations cytotoxicity.

Machado, JF, Sequeira D, Marques F, Piedade MFM, Villa de Brito MJ, Helena Garcia M, Fernandes AR, Morais TS.  2020.  New copper(I) complexes selective for prostate cancer cells, 2020. Dalton Trans. 49(35):12273-12286. AbstractWebsite

A new family of eighteen Cu(i) complexes of the general formula [Cu(PP)(LL)][BF4], where PP is a phosphane ligand and LL represents an N,O-heteroaromatic bidentate ligand, has been synthesized and fully characterized by classical analytical and spectroscopic methods. Five complexes of this series were also characterized by single crystal X-ray diffraction studies. The cytotoxicity of all compounds was evaluated in breast (MCF7) and prostate (LNCap) human cancer cells and in a normal prostate cell line (RWPE). In general, all compounds showed higher cytotoxicity for the prostate cancer cells than for the breast cells, with IC50 values in the range 0.2-2 muM after 24 h of treatment. The most cytotoxic compound, [Cu(dppe)(2-ap)][BF4] (16), where dppe = 1,2-bis(diphenylphosphano) ethane and 2-ap = 2-acetylpyridine, showed a high level of cellular internalization, generation of intracellular ROS and activation of the cell death mechanism via apoptosis/necrosis. Owing to its high cytotoxic activity for LNCap cells, being 70-fold higher than that for normal prostate cells (RWPE), complex (16) was found to be the most promising for further research in prostate cancer models.

Alves-Barroco, C, Paquete-Ferreira J, Santos-Silva T, Fernandes AR.  2020.  Singularities of Pyogenic Streptococcal Biofilms – From Formation to Health Implication, 2020. 11(3179) AbstractWebsite

Biofilms are generally defined as communities of cells involved in a self-produced extracellular matrix adhered to a surface. In biofilms, the bacteria are less sensitive to host defense mechanisms and antimicrobial agents, due to multiple strategies, that involve modulation of gene expression, controlled metabolic rate, intercellular communication, composition, and 3D architecture of the extracellular matrix. These factors play a key role in streptococci pathogenesis, contributing to therapy failure and promoting persistent infections. The species of the pyogenic group together with Streptococcus pneumoniae are the major pathogens belonging the genus Streptococcus, and its biofilm growth has been investigated, but insights in the genetic origin of biofilm formation are limited. This review summarizes pyogenic streptococci biofilms with details on constitution, formation, and virulence factors associated with formation.

Busila, M, Tabacaru A, Mussat V, Vasile BS, Neasu IA, Pinheiro T, Roma-Rodrigues C, Baptista PV, Fernandes AR, Matos AP, Marques F.  2020.  Size-Dependent Biological Activities of Fluorescent Organosilane-Modified Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles, 2020. J Biomed Nanotechnol. 16(2):137-152. AbstractWebsite

Surface modification of zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO NPs) is a strategy to tune their biocompatibility. Herein we report on the synthesis of a series of fluorescent ZnO NPs modified with 2-10% (3-glycidyloxypropyl)trimethoxysilane (GPTMS) to investigate the fluorescence properties and to explore their applications in microbiology and biomedicine. The obtained ZnO NPs were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Size reduction occurred from ca. 13 nm in unmodified ZnO to 3-4 nm in silane-modified samples and fluorescence spectra showed size-dependent variation of the photoemission bands' intensity. The antibacterial and cytotoxic activities were investigated on Gram-negative (Escherichia coli) and Gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria, and in ovarian (A2780) and prostate (PC3) cancer cells by tetrazolium/formazan-based methods. The antibacterial effect was higher for E. coli than S. aureus, while the cytotoxic activity was similar for both cancer cells and varied with the particle size. Cell death by apoptosis, and/or necrosis versus autophagy, were explored by flow cytometry using an Annexin V based-method and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The main mechanism of ZnO NPs toxicity may involve the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the induction of apoptosis or autophagy. This work revealed the potential utility of GPTMS-modified ZnO NPs in the treatment of bacterial infection and cancer.

Roma-Rodrigues, C, Malta G, Peixoto D, Ferreira LM, Baptista PV, Fernandes AR, Branco PS.  2020.  Synthesis of new hetero-arylidene-9(10H)-anthrone derivatives and their biological evaluation, 2020. Bioorg Chem. 99:103849. AbstractWebsite

New hetero-arylidene-9(10H)-anthrone derivatives (1) were synthesized from reaction of 1,2-dimethyl-3-alkyl imidazolium salts (2) and 9-anthracenecarboxaldehyde. Ion exchange of the anion with dioctyl sulfosuccinate and lithium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide led to the preparation of other derivatives. The antiproliferative effect of the compounds was evaluated in human ovarian (A2780) and colorectal (HCT116) carcinoma cell lines and in normal primary human fibroblasts. Compound 1 presented an antiproliferative effect related to the imidazolium pattern of substitution with compounds having a decyl group at the R-position (1c and 3c) showing the highest cytotoxic activities in all cell lines independently of the counter ion. Compounds 1b and 1c internalize A2780 cancer cells via a passive or an active transport, respectively, inducing A2780 cell death via an extrinsic apoptosis (1b) or intrinsic apoptosis and oncosis (1c). The localization of both compounds in the cytoplasm coupled to the absence of reactive oxygen species (ROS) induction suggest that the mechanisms of toxicity might be different than those of other anthracyclines currently used in chemotherapy.

Alves-Barroco, C, Rivas-Garcia L, Fernandes AR, Baptista PV.  2020.  Tackling Multidrug Resistance in Streptococci - From Novel Biotherapeutic Strategies to Nanomedicines, 2020. Front Microbiol. 11:579916. AbstractWebsite

The pyogenic streptococci group includes pathogenic species for humans and other animals and has been associated with enduring morbidity and high mortality. The main reason for the treatment failure of streptococcal infections is the increased resistance to antibiotics. In recent years, infectious diseases caused by pyogenic streptococci resistant to multiple antibiotics have been raising with a significant impact to public health and veterinary industry. The rise of antibiotic-resistant streptococci has been associated to diverse mechanisms, such as efflux pumps and modifications of the antimicrobial target. Among streptococci, antibiotic resistance emerges from previously sensitive populations as result of horizontal gene transfer or chromosomal point mutations due to excessive use of antimicrobials. Streptococci strains are also recognized as biofilm producers. The increased resistance of biofilms to antibiotics among streptococci promote persistent infection, which comprise circa 80% of microbial infections in humans. Therefore, to overcome drug resistance, new strategies, including new antibacterial and antibiofilm agents, have been studied. Interestingly, the use of systems based on nanoparticles have been applied to tackle infection and reduce the emergence of drug resistance. Herein, we present a synopsis of mechanisms associated to drug resistance in (pyogenic) streptococci and discuss some innovative strategies as alternative to conventional antibiotics, such as bacteriocins, bacteriophage, and phage lysins, and metal nanoparticles. We shall provide focused discussion on the advantages and limitations of agents considering application, efficacy and safety in the context of impact to the host and evolution of bacterial resistance.

Alves Ferreira, D, L MMDRS, A FR, Martins M.  2020.  A Tale of Two Ends: Repurposing Metallic Compounds from Anti-Tumour Agents to Effective Antibacterial Activity, 2020. Antibiotics (Basel). 9(6) AbstractWebsite

The rise in antibiotic resistance coupled with the gap in the discovery of active molecules has driven the need for more effective antimicrobials while focusing the attention into the repurpose of already existing drugs. Here, we evaluated the potential antibacterial activity of one cobalt and two zinc metallic compounds previously reported as having anticancer properties. Compounds were tested against a range of Gram-positive and -negative bacteria. The determination of the minimum inhibitory and bactericidal concentrations (MIC/MBC) of the drugs were used to assess their potential antibacterial activity and their effect on bacterial growth. Motility assays were conducted by exposing the bacteria to sub-MIC of each of the compounds. The effect of sub-MIC of the compounds on the membrane permeability was measured by ethidium bromide (EtBr) accumulation assay. Cell viability assays were performed in human cells. Compound TS262 was the most active against the range of bacteria tested. No effect was observed on the motility or accumulation of EtBr for any of the bacteria tested. Cell viability assays demonstrated that the compounds showed a decrease in cell viability at the MIC. These results are promising, and further studies on these compounds can lead to the development of new effective antimicrobials.

Das, K, Datta A, Frontera A, Wen YS, Roma-Rodrigues C, Raposo LR, Fernandes AR, Hung CH.  2020.  Zn(II) and Co(II) derivatives anchored with scorpionate precursor: Antiproliferative evaluation in human cancer cell lines, 2020. J Inorg Biochem. 202:110881. AbstractWebsite

A 'scorpionate' type precursor [bdtbpza=bis(3,5-di-t-butylpyrazol-1-yl)acetate] has been employed to synthesize two mononuclear Zn(II) and Co(II) derivatives, namely [Zn(bdtbpza)2 (H2O)2].2.5CH3OH.2[(CH3)3C-C3H2N2-C(CH3)3] (1) and [Co(bdtbpza)2(CH3OH)4] (2) in good yield. Single crystal X-ray diffraction analysis reveals that in 1, the Zn(II) atom is tetrahedrally surrounded by a pair of Oacetate atoms of two bis(pyrazol-1-yl)acetate units and two water molecules; while in 2, the Co(II) atom shows an octahedral environment coordinating a pair of Oacetate atoms of two bis(pyrazol-1-yl)acetate units along with four methanol molecules. The EPR spectra of 2 recorded at 77 and 298K confirmed the tetragonal symmetry of the high spin Co(II). The DFT (Density functional theory) computation is in good agreement with the geometry proposed for compounds 1 and 2. Both the compounds display a high antiproliferative activity against HCT116 (colorectal carcinoma) and A2780 (ovarian carcinoma) cell lines compared to human normal dermal fibroblasts. In the case of A2780 cells, compounds 1 and 2 exhibit IC50 values that are similar to those described for cisplatin, a widely used chemotherapeutic drug. Exposure of A2780 cells to the IC50 concentration of each compound led to an increase of the number of apoptotic and autophagic cells. In the case of compound 1, the accumulation of intracellular ROS (Reactive oxygen species) is responsible for triggering A2780 cell death.

Veigas, B, Matias A, Calmeiro T, Fortunato E, Fernandes AR, Baptista PV.  2019.  Antibody modified gold nanoparticles for fast colorimetric screening of rheumatoid arthritis, 2019. Analyst. 144(11):3613-3619. AbstractWebsite

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by chronic joint inflammation and one of the main causes of chronic disability worldwide with high prevalence in the ageing population. RA is characterized by autoantibody production, synovial inflammation and bone destruction, and the most accepted biomarker is rheumatoid factor (RF) autoantibodies. In this work, we developed a low-cost approach for the detection and quantification of the RF marker. This colorimetric immunosensor is based on gold nanoprobe crosslinking that results in extensive aggregation in the presence of the pentameric IgM RF. Aggregation of the nanoconjugates yields a color change from red to purple that can be easily observed by the naked eye. The interaction between nanoconjugates and the specific target was confirmed via dynamic light scattering (DLS), Raman spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging. This conceptual system shows a LOD of 4.15 UA mL(-1) IgM RF (clinical threshold is set for 20 IU mL(-1)). The one-step biosensor strategy herein proposed is much faster than conventional detection techniques, without the need for secondary antibodies, additional complex washing or signal amplification protocols. To the best of our knowledge this is the first report on target induced aggregation of gold nanoprobes for quantitative colorimetric autoantibody detection.

Sutradhar, M, Alegria ECBA, Ferretti F, Raposo LR, Guedes da Silva MFC, Baptista PV, Fernandes AR, Pombeiro AJL.  2019.  Antiproliferative activity of heterometallic sodium and potassium-dioxidovanadium(V) polymers, 2019. J Inorg Biochem. 200:110811. AbstractWebsite

The syntheses of the heterometallic sodium and potassium-dioxidovanadium 2D polymers, [NaVO2(1kappaNOO';2kappaO"-L)(H2O)]n(1) and [KVO2(1kappaNOO';2kappaO';3kappaO"-L)(EtOH)]n(2) (where the kappa notation indicates the coordinating atoms of the polydentate ligand L) derived from (3,5-di-tert-butyl-2-hydroxybenzylidene)-2-hydroxybenzohydrazide (H2L) are reported. The polymers were characterized by IR, NMR, elemental analysis and single crystal X-ray diffraction analysis. The antiproliferative potential of 1 and 2 was examined towards four human cancer cell lines (ovarian carcinoma, A2780, colorectal carcinoma, HCT116, prostate carcinoma, PC3 and breast adenocarcinoma, MCF-7cell lines) and normal human fibroblasts. Complex 1 and 2 showed the highest cytotoxic activity against A2780 cell line (IC50 8.2 and 11.3muM, respectively) with 1>2 and an IC50 in the same range as cisplatin (IC50 3.4muM; obtained in the same experimental conditions) but, interestingly, with no cytotoxicity to healthy human fibroblasts for concentrations up to 75muM. This high cytotoxicity of 1 in ovarian cancer cells and its low cytotoxicity in healthy cells demonstrates its potential for further biological studies. Our results suggest that both complexes induce ovarian carcinoma cell death via apoptosis and autophagy, but autophagy is the main biological cause of the reduction of viability observed and that ROS (reactive oxygen species) may play an important role in triggering cell death.

Alves-Barroco, C, Roma-Rodrigues C, Balasubramanian N, Guimaraes MA, Ferreira-Carvalho BT, Muthukumaran J, Nunes D, Fortunato E, Martins R, Santos-Silva T, Figueiredo AMS, Fernandes AR, Santos-Sanches I.  2019.  Biofilm development and computational screening for new putative inhibitors of a homolog of the regulatory protein BrpA in Streptococcus dysgalactiae subsp. dysgalactiae, 2019. Int J Med Microbiol. 309(3-4):169-181. AbstractWebsite

Streptococcus dysgalactiae subsp. dysgalactiae (SDSD), a Lancefield group C streptococci (GCS), is a frequent cause of bovine mastitis. This highly prevalent disease is the costliest in dairy industry. Adherence and biofilm production are important factors in streptoccocal pathogenesis. We have previously described the adhesion and internalization of SDSD isolates in human cells and now we describe the biofilm production capability of this bacterium. In this work we integrated microbiology, imaging and computational methods to evaluate the biofilm production capability of SDSD isolates; to assess the presence of biofilm regulatory protein BrpA homolog in the biofilm producers; and to predict a structural model of BrpA-like protein and its binding to putative inhibitors. Our results show that SDSD isolates form biofilms on abiotic surface such as glass (hydrophilic) and polystyrene (hydrophobic), with the strongest biofilm formation observed in glass. This ability was mainly associated with a proteinaceous extracellular matrix, confirmed by the dispersion of the biofilms after proteinase K and trypsin treatment. The biofilm formation in SDSD isolates was also confirmed by confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Under SEM observation, VSD16 isolate formed cell aggregates during biofilm growth while VSD9 and VSD10 formed smooth and filmy layers. We show that brpA-like gene is present and expressed in SDSD biofilm-producing isolates and its expression levels correlated with the biofilm production capability, being more expressed in the late exponential phase of planktonic growth compared to biofilm growth. Fisetin, a known biofilm inhibitor and a putative BrpA binding molecule, dramatically inhibited biofilm formation by the SDSD isolates but did not affect planktonic growth, at the tested concentrations. Homology modeling was used to predict the 3D structure of BrpA-like protein. Using high throughput virtual screening and molecular docking, we selected five ligand molecules with strong binding affinity to the hydrophobic cleft of the protein, making them potential inhibitor candidates of the SDSD BrpA-like protein. These results warrant further investigations for developing novel strategies for SDSD anti-biofilm therapy.

Choroba, K, Machura B, Kula S, Raposo LR, Fernandes AR, Kruszynski R, Erfurt K, Shul'pina LS, Kozlov YN, Shul'pin GB.  2019.  Copper(ii) complexes with 2,2':6',2''-terpyridine, 2,6-di(thiazol-2-yl)pyridine and 2,6-di(pyrazin-2-yl)pyridine substituted with quinolines. Synthesis, structure, antiproliferative activity, and catalytic activity in the oxidation of alkanes and alcohols, 2019. Dalton Trans. 48(33):12656-12673. AbstractWebsite

A series of 2,2':6',2''-terpyridine (terpy), 2,6-di(thiazol-2-yl)pyridine (dtpy) and 2,6-di(pyrazin-2-yl)pyridine (dppy) derivatives with n-quinolyl substituents (n = 2 and 4) was used to synthesize five-coordinate complexes [CuCl2(n-quinolyl-terpy)] (1-2), [CuCl2(n-quinolyl-dtpy)] (3-4) and [CuCl2(n-quinolyl-dppy)] (5-6), respectively. The main emphasis of the research was to investigate the impact of the triimine skeleton (terpy, dtpy and dppy) and n-quinolyl pendant substituent on the antiproliferative and catalytic properties of 1-6. The obtained Cu(ii) compounds were studied as antiproliferative agents against human colorectal (HCT116) and ovarian (A2780) carcinoma, and they were used as catalysts for the oxidation of alkanes and alcohols with peroxides under mild conditions. The kinetic characteristics of the oxidizing species generated by the catalytic system Cu(ii) complex-H2O2 in CH3CN were obtained from the dependence of the alkane oxidation rate on its initial concentration. A model of competitive interaction of hydroxyl radicals with CH3CN and RH in the catalyst cavity has been proposed which is based on the simultaneous study of kinetics and selectivity in alkane oxidations.

Roma-Rodrigues, C, Fernandes AR, Baptista PV.  2019.  Counteracting the effect of leukemia exosomes by antiangiogenic gold nanoparticles, 2019. Int J Nanomedicine. 14:6843-6854. AbstractWebsite

Purpose: Progression of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is frequently associated with increased angiogenesis at the bone marrow mediated by exosomes. The capability of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) functionalized with antiangiogenic peptides to hinder the formation of new blood vessels has been demonstrated in a chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) model. Methods: Exosomes of K562 CML cell line were isolated and their angiogenic effect assessed in a CAM model. AuNPs functionalized with antiangiogenic peptides were used to block the angiogenic effect of CML-derived exosomes, assessed by evaluation of expression levels of key modulators involved in angiogenic pathways - VEGFA, VEGFR1 (also known as FLT1) and IL8. Results: Exosomes isolated from K562 cells promoted the doubling of newly formed vessels associated with the increase of VEGFR1 expression. This is a concentration and time-dependent effect. The AuNPs functionalized with antiangiogenic peptides were capable to block the angiogenic effect by modulating VEGFR1 associated pathway. Conclusion: Exosomes derived from blast cells are capable to trigger (neo)-angiogenesis, a key factor for the progression and spreading of cancer, in particular in CML. AuNPs functionalized with specific antiangiogenic peptides are capable to block the effect of the exosomes produced by malignant cells via modulation of the intrinsic VEGFR pathway. Together, these data highlight the potential of nanomedicine-based strategies against cancer proliferation.