A novel and rational approach towards designing aluminium chelators

  • Shaqil H. Chaudary

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Aluminium (Al) is known to be neurotoxic and has been associated with the aetiology of Alzheimer's Disease. To date, only desferrioxamine (DFO), a trihydroxamic acid siderophore has been used in the clinical environment for the removal of Al from the body. However, this drug is expensive, orally inactive and is associated with many side effects. These studies employed a theoretical approach, with the use of quantum mechanics (QM) via semi-empirical molecular orbital (MO) calculations, and a practical approach using U87-MG glioblastoma cells as a model for evaluating the influence of potential chelators on the passage of aluminium into cells. Preliminary studies involving the Cambridge Structural Database (CSD) identified that Al prefers binding to bidentate ligands in a 3:1 manner, whereby oxygen was the exclusive donating atom. Statistically significant differences in M-O bond lengths when compared to other trivalent metal ions such as Fe3+ were established and used as an acceptance criterion for subsequent MO calculations. Of the semi-empirical methods parameterised for Al, the PM3 Hamiltonian was found to give the most reliable final optimised geometries of simple 3:1 Al complexes. Consequently the PM3 Hamiltonian was used for evaluating the Hf of 3:1 complexes with more complicated ligands. No correlation exists between published stability constants and individual parameters calculated via PM3 optimisations, although investigation of the dicarboxylates reveals a correlation of 0.961 showing promise for affinity prediction of closely related ligands. A simple and inexpensive morin spectrofluorescence assay has been developed and optimised producing results comparable to atomic absorption spectroscopy methods for the quantitative analysis of Al. This assay was used in subsequent in vitro models, initially on E. coli, which indicated that Al inhibits the antimicrobial action of ciprofloxacin, a potent quinolone antibiotic. Ensuing studies using the second model, U87-MG cells, investigated the influence of chelators on the transmembrane transport of Al, identifying 1,2-diethylhydroxypyridin-4-one as a ligand showing greatest potential for chelating Al in the clinical situation. In conclusion, these studies have explored semi-empirical MO Hamiltonians and an in-vitro U87-MG cell line, both as possible methods for predicting effective chelators of Al.
    Date of Award1999
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorPeter Lambert (Supervisor) & Carl H Schwalbe (Supervisor)


    • Design
    • aluminium chelators

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