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Medicinal Inorganic Chemistry: Metallotherapeutics for Chronic Diseases

  1. Katherine H. Thompson

Published Online: 15 MAR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/0470862106.ia475

Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry

How to Cite

Thompson, K. H. 2011. Medicinal Inorganic Chemistry: Metallotherapeutics for Chronic Diseases. Encyclopedia of Inorganic Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2011


Metal-containing therapeutic agents designed for use in chronic disorders, such as gastrointestinal dyspepsia, bipolar disease, diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, and arthritis, present additional challenges to the medicinal chemist. Beyond the immediate toxicity issues seen with acute disease treatments, chronic use of metallotherapeutic agents may result in metal ion accumulation or in gradually developing intolerance that can require discontinuation of the drug. Metallotherapeutic agents that have passed the rigorous testing required for chronic use include bismuth subsalicylates, for a variety of gastrointestinal disorders; lithium carbonate, for bipolar disease; lanthanum carbonate, for end-stage renal disease; strontium ranelate, for osteoporosis; and the gold-based antiarthritic, Auranofin™, although the last has fallen out of favor. Chromium picolinate is an approved nutritional supplement, a designation that allows less stringent testing than for new chronic-use drugs. Among those compounds not currently approved for clinical use, but showing promise, the copper – indomethacin and zinc – indomethacin complexes, for inflammation resulting from rheumatoid arthritis; vanadium compounds, for glucose- and lipid-lowering in type 2 diabetes mellitus; and selenium compounds, as possible cancer preventatives, are worthy of consideration.


  • renal insufficiency;
  • osteoporosis;
  • aurothiomalate;
  • chromium nicotinate;
  • copper indomethacin;
  • vanadyl sulfate;
  • vanadium;
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus;
  • protein tyrosine phosphatase;
  • insulin receptor tyrosine kinase;
  • selenium