The interaction of silver(II) complexes with biological macromolecules and antioxidants

Katherine D. Trotter, Olawale Owojaiye, Stuart P. Meredith, Pat E. Keating, Mark D. Spicer, John Regllinski, Corinne M. Spickett

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5 Citations (Scopus)
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Silver is widely used for its antimicrobial properties, but microbial resistance to heavy metals is increasing. Silver(II) compounds are more oxidizing and therefore have the potential to overcome resistance via extensive attack on cellular components, but have traditionally been hard to stabilize for biological applications. Here, the high oxidation state cation was stabilised using pyridinecarboxylate ligands, of which the 2,6-dicarboxypyridine Ag(II) complex (Ag2,6P) was found to have the best tractability. This complex was found to be more stable in phosphate buffer than DMSO, allowing studies of its interaction with water soluble antioxidants and biological macromolecules, with the aim of demonstrating its potential to oxidize them, as well as determining the reaction products. Spectrophotometric analysis showed that Ag2,6P was rapidly reduced by the antioxidants glutathione, ascorbic acid and vitamin E; the unsaturated lipids arachidonic and linoleic acids, model carbohydrate β-cyclodextrin, and protein cytochrome c also reacted readily. Analysis of the reaction with glutathione by NMR and electrospray mass spectrometry confirmed that the glutathione was oxidized to the disulfide form. Mass spectrometry also clearly showed the addition of multiple oxygen atoms to the unsaturated fatty acids, suggesting a radical mechanism, and cross-linking of linoleic acid was observed. The seven hydroxyl groups of β-cyclodextrin were found to be completely oxidized to the corresponding carboxylates. Treatment of cytochrome c with Ag2,6P led to protein aggregation and fragmentation, and dose-dependent oxidative damage was demonstrated by oxyblotting. Thus Ag2,6P was found to be highly oxidizing to a wide variety of polar and nonpolar biological molecules.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-640
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2019


  • Ag(II) 2,6-dicarboxypyridine
  • antimicrobial metal
  • glutathione
  • lipid peroxidation
  • oxidative stress


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