Design, Synthesis and in Vivo Evaluation of 3-Arylcoumarin Derivatives of rhenium(I) Tricarbonyl Complexes as Potent Antibacterial Agents Against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

Preparation of a series of ten 3-arylcoumarin molecules, their respective fac-[Re(CO)3(bpy)L]+ and fac-[Re(CO)3(L⁀L)Br] complexes. All compounds were tested for their antimicrobial efficacy. Whereas the 3-arylcoumarin ligands are virtually inactive against the human-associated pathogens with minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) > 150 µM, when coordinated to the fac-[Re(CO)3]+ core, most of the resulting complexes showed remarkable antibacterial potency. Several rhenium complexes exhibit activity in nanomolar concentrations against Gram-positive pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus strains, including methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and Enterococcus faecium. The molecules do not affect bacterial cell membrane potential, but some of the most potent complexes strongly interact with DNA, indicating it as a possible target for their mode of action. In vivo studies in the zebrafish model showed that the complexes with anti-staphylococcal/MRSA activity were non-toxic to the organism even at much higher doses of the corresponding MICs. In the zebrafish-MRSA infection model, the complexes increased the survival rate of infected fish up to 100 % and markedly reduced bacterial burden. Moreover, all rescued fish developed normally following the treatments with the metallic compounds.