Applications of “Hot” and “Cold” Bis(thiosemicarbazonato) Metal Complexes in Multimodal Imaging

Fernando Cortezon-Tamarit, Sophia Sarpaki, David G. Calatayud, Vincenzo Mirabello, Sofia I. Pascu

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The applications of coordination chemistry to molecular imaging has become a matter of intense research over the past 10 years. In particular, the applications of bis(thiosemicarbazonato) metal complexes in molecular imaging have mainly been focused on compounds with aliphatic backbones due to the in vivo imaging success of hypoxic tumors with PET (positron emission tomography) using 64CuATSM [copper (diacetyl-bis(N4-methylthiosemicarbazone))]. This compound entered clinical trials in the US and the UK during the first decade of the 21st century for imaging hypoxia in head and neck tumors. The replacement of the ligand backbone to aromatic groups, coupled with the exocyclic N's functionalization during the synthesis of bis(thiosemicarbazones) opens the possibility to use the corresponding metal complexes as multimodal imaging agents of use, both in vitro for optical detection, and in vivo when radiolabeled with several different metallic species. The greater kinetic stability of acenaphthenequinone bis(thiosemicarbazonato) metal complexes, with respect to that of the corresponding aliphatic ATSM complexes, allows the stabilization of a number of imaging probes, with special interest in “cold” and “hot” Cu(II) and Ga(III) derivatives for PET applications and 111In(III) derivatives for SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) applications, whilst Zn(II) derivatives display optical imaging properties in cells, with enhanced fluorescence emission and lifetime with respect to the free ligands. Preliminary studies have shown that gallium-based acenaphthenequinone bis(thiosemicarbazonato) complexes are also hypoxia selective in vitro, thus increasing the interest in them as new generation imaging agents for in vitro and in vivo applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1380-1397
Number of pages18
JournalChemical Record
Issue number3
Early online date6 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2016


  • cancer
  • hypoxia
  • imaging agents
  • metal complexes


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