Herein, the development of ruthenium complexes as potential apoptosis inducers, as well as their
underlying mechanism has been reviewed. In recent years, various ruthenium complexes have been designed
and their in vitro and in vivo inhibitory activities against various types of tumor cells have been evaluated
extensively. It’s demonstrated that ruthenium complexes can induce apoptosis of tumor cells through the signal
pathway of mitochondria-mediated, death receptor-mediated, and/or endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress
pathways. Alternately, the binding behavior of these ruthenium(II) complexes with DNA, especially with Gquadruplex
DNA may play a key role in the DNA damage of tumor cells, and thus provides a versatile tool to
rational design novel ruthenium complexes with high activity and selectivity.
Keywords: Ruthenium complexes, apoptosis, mitochondria, G-quadruplex, endoplasmic reticulum.
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