Singlet Oxygen Production and Biological Activity of Hexanuclear Chalcocyanide Rhenium Cluster Complexes [{Re6Q8}(CN)6]4– (Q = S, Se, Te)

Octahedral rhenium cluster complexes have recently emerged as relevant building blocks for the design of singlet oxygen photosensitizing materials toward biological applications such as blue-light photodynamic therapy. However, their singlet oxygen generation ability as well as biological properties have been studied only superficially. Herein we investigate in detail the singlet oxygen photogeneration, dark and photoinduced cytotoxicity, cellular uptake kinetics, cellular localization and in vitro photoinduced oxidative stress, and photodynamic cytotoxicity of the series of octahedral rhenium cluster complexes [{Re6Q8}­(CN)6]4–, where Q = S, Se, Te. Our results demonstrate that the selenium-containing complex possesses optimal properties in terms of absorption and singlet oxygen productivity. These features coupled with the cellular internalization and low dark toxicity lead to the first photoinduced cytotoxic effect observed for a molecular [{M6Q8}­L6] complex, making it a promising object for further study in terms of blue-light PDT.