Mitaplatin, a potent fusion of cisplatin and the orphan drug dichloroacetate

Shanta Dhar, Stephen J. Lippard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

278 Scopus citations


The unique glycolytic metabolism of most solid tumors, known as the Warburg effect, is associated with resistance to apoptosis that enables cancer cells to survive. Dichloroacetate (DCA) is an anticancer agent that can reverse the Warburg effect by inhibiting a key enzyme in cancer cells, pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK), that is required for the process. DCA is currently not approved for cancer treatment in the USA. Here, we present the synthesis, characterization, and anticancer properties of c,t,c-[Pt(NH3) 2(O2CHCl2)2Cl2], mitaplatin, in which two DCA units are appended to the axial positions of a six-coordinate Pt(IV) center. The negative intracellular redox potential reduces the platinum to release cisplatin, a Pt(II) compound, and two equivalents of DCA. By a unique mechanism, mitaplatin thereby attacks both nuclear DNA with cisplatin and mitochondria with DCA selectively in cancer cells. The cytotoxicity of mitaplatin in a variety of cancer cell lines equals or exceeds that of all known Pt(IV) compounds and is comparable to that of cisplatin. Mitaplatin alters the mitochondrial membrane potential gradient (ΔΨm) of cancer cells, promoting apoptosis by releasing cytochrome c and translocating apoptosis inducing factor from mitochondria to the nucleus. Cisplatin formed upon cellular reduction of mitaplatin enters the nucleus and targets DNA to form 1,2-intrastrand d(GpG) cross-links characteristic of its ownpotency as an anticancer drug. These properties of mitaplatin are manifest in its ability to selectively kill cancer cells cocultured with normal fibroblasts and to partially overcome cisplatin resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22199-22204
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number52
StatePublished - Dec 19 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer therapy
  • DNA damage
  • Mitochondrion
  • Platinum
  • Warburg effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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