Enhancement of cytotoxicity of bleomyein by dithiocarbamates: Formation of bis(dithiocarbamato) Cu(II)

Barathi Ujjani, Suzanne Lyman, Donald Winkelmann, David H. Petering, William Antholine, Mark M. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Properties of the reactions of dithiocarbamates and their Cu(II) or Fe(III) complexes with Ehrlich cells were determined and related to their effects on the inhibition of cell proliferation caused by bleomycin and Cu bleomycin. In complete culture medium containing Eagle's minimal essential medium plus Earles salts and 2.5% fetal calf serum, dimethyl- and diethyldithiocarbamates and their copper complexes inhibit cell proliferation and cause cell death. The copper complexes are more effective agents. Ferric tris-diethyldithiocarbamate is also a cytotoxic species. In contrast, when cells are exposed to dimethyldithiocarbamate or its copper complex in Ringer's buffer under metal-restricted condition, washed, and then placed in complete medium, the copper complex is much more active in inhibiting cell growth. The difference is magnified when dihydroxyethyldithiocarbamate and N-methylglucamine dithiocarbamate and their copper complexes are compared in complete media. Incubation of bleomycin or copper bleomycin with Ehrlich cells in Ringer's buffer with or without dimethyldithiocarbamate or bis-dimethyldithiocarbamato Cu(II) leads to no enhancement of cytotoxicity from combinations of agents, except when the two copper complexes are present. Diethyl- or dimethyldithiocarbamate readily extracts copper from Cu(II)bleomycin and iron from Fe(III)bleomycin when ethylacetate is present to remove the tris-dithiocarbamato Fe(III) complex from aqueous solution. When bis-dimethyldithiocarbamato Cu(II) is incubated with Ehrlich cells, copper is released from the complex and bound to high molecular weight and metallothionein fractions. A reductive mode of dissociation of the copper complexes in cells is supported by ESR experiments. Reactions of diethyl- and dimethyldithiocarbamato Cu(II) with thiol compounds demonstrates one possible mechanism of reduction of these complexes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-93
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Inorganic Biochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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