Background: Nanoparticles of gold and silver are offering revolutionary changes in the field of cancer therapy.N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) metal complexes possess diverse biological activities and are being investigatedas potential chemotherapeutic agents. The purpose of this study was to examine the cytotoxicity and possiblemechanisms of action of two types of newly synthesized nanofiber composites containing BIAN N-heterocyclicgold carbene complexes in two types of human cancer cells, namely breast cancer (MCF7) and liver cancer(HepG2) cells and also in normal human embryonic kidney cells (HEK 293). Materials and
Methods: Cytotoxicitywas assessed by MTT cell viability assay and oxidative stress by checking the total glutathione level.
Results:Both compounds affected the cell survival of the tested cell lines at very low concentrations (IC50 values inthe micro molar range) as compared to a well-known anti-cancer drug, 5 fluorouracil. A 60-80% depletion intotal glutathione level was detected in treated cells.
Conclusions: Reduction in total glutathione level is one ofthe biochemical pathways for the induction of oxidative stress which in turn could be a possible mechanism ofaction by which these compounds induce cytotoxicity in cancer cell lines. The in vitro toxicity towards cancercells found here means that these molecules could be potential anticancer candidates.