ISSN print edition: 0366-6352
ISSN electronic edition: 1336-9075
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Synthesis, characterization, in vitro antibacterial, and anticancer studies of Ag(I)-N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) complexes

Öznur Doğan Ulu, Ali Kuruçay, Burhan Ateş, and İsmail Özdemir

Catalysis Research and Application Center, İnönü University, Malatya, Turkey



Received: 27 June 2022  Accepted: 15 September 2022


N-Heterocyclic carbene (NHC) complexes of metals such as Ag(I), Au(I), Pd(II), and Cu(I) are very interesting compounds due to both their catalytic and biological properties. In particular, Ag(I)-NHC complexes show activity as antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anticancer agents. Therefore, in this study, six new Ag(I) complexes were obtained from the reaction of benzimidazolium salts with Ag2O. The structures of the prepared compounds were elucidated by FT-IR, 1H NMR, 13C NMR, LC–MS spectroscopic methods, and elemental analysis. The antibacterial activity of all Ag(I)-NHC complexes was evaluated against bacterial strains E. coli as gram-negative and B. subtilis as gram-positive bacteria using ampicillin as a standard antibiotic. Moreover, all Ag(I)-NHC complexes were investigated for anticancer activity against the breast adenocarcinoma cell line (MCF-7). All complexes showed good activity against two bacterial strains, even complexes 2d and 2e had more bactericidal activity against B. subtilis than ampicillin. Moreover, complexes 2a (IC50 6.01 ± 2.39 µg/mL) and 2e (IC50 3.40 ± 0.87 µg/mL) exhibited a better anticancer effect against to MCF-7 cell line than cisplatin (IC50 82.02 ± 6.19 µg/mL). Finally, it is worthy to note that the biochemical outcomes revealed that these complexes may be promising antibacterial and anticancer agents.

Keywords: N-Heterocyclic carbine; Silver complexes; Antibacterial activity; Breast cancer cells; Cytotoxic activity

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.1007/s11696-022-02498-1


Chemical Papers 77 (1) 423–435 (2023)

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