Next Article in Journal
Plant-Based Nanoantibiotics: An Effective Strategy to Overcoming Antibiotic Resistance
Previous Article in Journal
Potential Antibacterial Action of α-Pinene
Font Type:
Arial Georgia Verdana
Font Size:
Aa Aa Aa
Line Spacing:
Column Width:
Proceeding Paper

Polyoxovanadates Contribution to Pharmacological, Antimicrobial and Toxicological Actions of Vanadium †

Instituto Superior de Engenharia, Universidade do Algarve, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal
Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia (FCT), University of Algarve, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal
Centro de Ciências do Mar (CCMar), University of Algarve, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the Biosystems in Toxicology and Pharmacology—Current challenges, 8–9 September 2022; Available online:
Med. Sci. Forum 2022, 11(1), 8;
Published: 23 July 2022
(This article belongs to the Proceedings of Biosystems in Toxicology and Pharmacology—Current Challenges)


Studies of the pharmacological action of vanadium compounds have shown that vanadium has been arousing interest as a potential candidate for therapeutic applications. Polyoxovanadates (POVs) emerge from polyoxometalatates (POMs) and are responsible for an increase in the number of vanadium studies on multidirectional biological activity in view of their application in biomedicine. In fact, increasing research studies have shown POVs’ anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, anti-viral, anti-cancer as well as anti-diabetic activities. Herein, we highlight decavanadate and decavanadate compounds, perhaps the most studied POVs in biology, strengthening the potential use of such metallodrugs in the future. Thus, vanadium compounds, including POVs, show a great potential in the treatment of many types of diseases.

1. Introduction

Vanadium (V) is an element with a wide range of effects on the mammalian organism [1,2]. The ability of this metal to form polyoxovanadates (POVs) and organometallic compounds has contributed to the increase in the number of studies on multidirectional biological activity in view of their application in medicine [3,4,5,6,7]. Vanadium compounds receive a great deal of attention from chemists, biologists, biochemists, toxicologists, and pharmacologists. The biological activity of compounds containing this element has resulted in many investigations of many organic vanadium complexes and its inorganic compounds in terms of their potential use in the treatment of certain diseases in humans. Studies carried out so far on vanadium compounds have shown that the bioactive complexes/compounds of this metal can be therapeutically active at low concentrations [1,3]. The structures of several vanadium complexes including POVs, showing several biological and biomedical activities, were described elsewhere [3,5,6,7,8].

2. Vanadium in Biology, Toxicology and Pharmacology

Vanadium is essential in trace amounts (0.05 μM) and toxic in excess (>10 μM) [1,2]. Vanadium at the highest oxidation state (+5) is the most toxic vanadium form, and vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) is the most toxic form of this metal [1]. The redox properties of vanadium are a determinant of its pharmacological effects because it can inhibit or stimulate enzymes. Similarly, due to the ability of vanadium to adopt a variety of coordination geometries, the rich structural chemistry of POVs might be responsible for the increased interest in their biology and biomedical applications [5,6,7]. Many studies have revealed, at the molecular level, the interaction of vanadate, POVs and organometallic compounds containing vanadium with enzymes and have revealed them to have a toxic activity on these enzymes, in particular by inhibiting their activity. The enzymes most studied are phosphatases, PTPases, kinases, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, triphosphate diphosphohydrolases, phosphodiesterases, phosphoglucomutases and ATPases [5,7,9].
The inhibitory effects of vanadium compounds are observed in ion pumps such as Na+/K+ ATPase, H+/K+ ATPase and Ca2+-ATPase, and interestingly, the isopolyoxovanadate decavanadate [V10O28]6− is a more potent Ca2+-ATPase inhibitor than monomeric vanadate [10,11,12]. A recent study with several POVs, namely [V10O28]6− (V10), [H6V14O38(PO4)]5− (V14), [V15O36Cl]6− (V15) and [V18O42I]7− (V18), demonstrated their inhibitory effect on three major multidrug resistance-linked ABC transporters: P-glycoprotein (P-gp), ABCG2 and MRP1, opening the door to a potential strategy for overcoming multidrug resistance via the use of inhibitors of ABC drug transporters [13]. In fact, POVs have been referred to as polyoxometalates with several biological activities [5,7,9] and constitute a rapidly growing field [5,6,7,9]. Moreover, POVs were used in the degradation of emerging pollutants, indicating that the future is bright in environmental and biomedical research [7]. Examples of several POV structures can be found elsewhere [5]. The isopolyoxovanadate decavanadate (V10) is perhaps the most studied in biology, playing many important roles in fundamental processes [5,6,7,9,11,14,15].
The mechanisms of toxicity of POVs require further experimental work, as they have not yet been fully elucidated. However, POVs induce many biological effects by affecting several processes, such as oxidative stress, lipoperoxidation, apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, interference with ions transport systems, inhibition of mRNA synthesis, cell morphology changes, changes in metabolic pathways, phosphorylase enzyme inhibition and cell signalling, inhibition of viral mRNA polymerase, inhibition of virus binding to the host cell, and penetration and interaction with virus protein cages, among others [5,6,7]. The biological activity of compounds containing this element has resulted in many investigations on many organic vanadium complexes as well as on its inorganic compounds in terms of their potential use in the treatment of certain diseases in humans. In fact, many research studies have described, among others, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, anti-viral anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and anti-hypercholesterolemic activities and cardioprotective, neuroprotective, and anti-obesity effects resulting from vanadium compounds, complexes and/or POVs (Figure 1).

3. POVs’ Contribution to Antimicrobial Activities of Vanadium

As referred to above, vanadium compounds present antimicrobial activity. Several studies have demonstrated the pharmacological potential of vanadium compounds and/or POVs, showing that some compounds/complexes of this element can be effective against many microbial diseases, such as: (a) viruses, including dengue virus, influenza, HIV-1 virus and HIV-2 immunodeficiency virus, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus [16,17] responsible, respectively, for dengue fever, acute respiratory infection, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and SARS; (b) parasitic protozoan diseases caused by the genus Trypanosoma responsible for American trypanosomiasis and African trypanosomiasis, known as Chagas disease and sleeping sickness, respectively; protozoan parasites of the genera Leishmania and Entamoeba [17,18,19,20,21,22,23] responsible for the development of leishmaniasis and amoebiasis, respectively; (c) mycotoxicosis caused by the genera Candida, Aspergillus, Trichophyton, and Microscopus [24,25,26]; and (d) bacterial diseases caused by Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria [27,28,29], such as food poisoning, gastrointestinal disease, typhoid fever, respiratory infections, tuberculosis, pneumonia, strep throat and skin diseases.
Bacterial resistance to antibiotics has led researchers to find compounds with a potential antibacterial action and/or with the ability to reverse antibiotic resistance. Polyoxovanadates (POVs) and polyoxotungstates (POTs) are inorganic-based clusters that may fulfill this need. In fact, it was reported that polyoxometalates (POMs) showed the ability to disturb microorganisms that were either susceptible or resistant to antibiotics [5,6,7,15,29]. Moreover, some POTs present antiquorum sensing and anti-biofilm activities besides being potent antibacterial agents against S. aureus and exibiting antiviral activities against enteric viruses [30].

4. Conclusions

The biological activity of vanadium has demonstrated an essential role of this element. Vanadium compounds, including POVs, have been shown to regulate the activity of key enzymes involved in the phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of proteins, kinases, and phosphatases, taking part not only in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism but also in cell proliferation and differentiation.
POVs have made a relevant contribution to the increasing interest in the pharmacological action of vanadium compounds. Several studies have shown that vanadium has been arousing interest as a potential candidate for therapeutic applications. POVs present anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, anti-viral and anti-cancer activities, among others, which points to promising applications in a near future.

Author Contributions

Investigation, G.F. and M.A.; writing—original draft preparation, G.F. and M.A.; writing—review and editing, G.F. and M.A. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


The authors’ research received Portuguese national funds from FCT—Foundation for Science and Technology through projects UIDB/04326/2020, UIDP/04326/2020 and LA/P/0101/2020.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Data is contained within the article.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


  1. Ścibior, A.; Pietrzyk, Ł.; Plewa, Z.; Skiba, A. Vanadium: Risks and possible benefits in the light of a comprehensive overview of its pharmacotoxicological mechanisms and multi-applications with a summary of further research trends. J. Trace Elements Med. Biol. 2020, 61, 126508. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  2. Harland, B.F.; Harden-Williams, B.A. Is vanadium of human nutritional importance yet? J. Am. Diet. Assoc. 1994, 94, 891–894. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  3. Pessoa, J.C.; Garribba, E.; Santos, M.F.A.; Santos-Silva, T. Vanadium and proteins: Uptake, transport, structure, activity and function. Coord. Chem. Rev. 2015, 301–302, 49–86. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  4. Zaporowska, H.; Ścibior, A. Vanadium and its significance in animal cell metabolism. In Vanadium in the Environment. Part 2: Health Effects; Nriagu, J.O., Ed.; John Wiley and Sons: Hoboken, NJ, USA, 1998; pp. 121–133. [Google Scholar]
  5. Aureliano, M.; Gumerova, N.I.; Sciortino, G.; Garribba, E.; McLauchlan, C.C.; Rompel, A.; Crans, D.C. Polyoxidovanadates’ interactions with proteins: An overview. Coord. Chem. Rev. 2021, 454, 214344. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  6. Aureliano, M.; Marques-da-Silva, D.; Serrano, A.; Martins, J.; Faleiro, L.; Fonseca, C.; Fraqueza, G.; Lagoa, R. Chapter 7, Polyoxometalates with anticancer, antibacterial and antiviral activities. In Polyoxometalates: Advances, Properties, and Applications, 1st ed.; Rubio, L.R., Artetxe, B., Gutiérrez-Zorrilla, J.M., Vilas, J.L., Eds.; Jenny Stanford Publishing: Singapore, 2022; ISBN 9781003277446/9789814968140. [Google Scholar]
  7. Aureliano, M. The Future Is Bright for Polyoxometalates. BioChem 2022, 2, 8–26. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  8. Amante, C.; De Sousa-Coelho, A.L.; Aureliano, M. Vanadium and Melanoma: A Systematic Review. Metals 2021, 11, 828. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  9. Treviño, S.; Díaz, A.; Sánchez-Lara, E.; Sanchez-Gaytan, B.L.; Perez-Aguilar, J.M.; González-Vergara, E. Vanadium in Biological Action: Chemical, Pharmacological Aspects, and Metabolic Implications in Diabetes Mellitus. Biol. Trace Element Res. 2018, 188, 68–98. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  10. Montes, M.R.; Spiaggi, A.J.; Monti, J.L.; Cornelius, F.; Olesen, C.; Garrahan, P.J.; Rossi, R.C. Rb+ occlusion stabilized by vanadate in gastric H+/K+-ATPase at 25 °C. Biochim. et Biophys. Acta (BBA) Biomembr. 2011, 1808, 316–322. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  11. Aureliano, M. Decavanadate Toxicology and Pharmacological Activities: V10or V1, Both or None? Oxidative Med. Cell. Longev. 2016, 2016, 6103457. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  12. Fraqueza, G.; Fuentes, J.; Krivosudský, L.; Dutta, S.; Mal, S.S.; Roller, A.; Giester, G.; Rompel, A.; Aureliano, M. Inhibition of Na+/K+- and Ca2+-ATPase activities by phosphotetradecavanadate. J. Inorg. Biochem. 2019, 197, 110700. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  13. Kita, D.H.; de Andrade, G.A.; Missina, J.M.; Postal, K.; Boell, V.K.; Santana, F.S.; Zattoni, I.F.; Zanzarini, I.D.S.; Moure, V.R.; Rego, F.G.D.M.; et al. Polyoxovanadates as new P-glycoprotein inhibitors: Insights into the mechanism of inhibition. FEBS Lett. 2022, 596, 381–399. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  14. Soares, S.S.; Gutiérrez-Merino, C.; Aureliano, M. Mitochondria as a target for decavanadate toxicity in Sparus aurata heart. Aquat. Toxicol. 2007, 83, 1–9. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  15. Samart, N.; Arhouma, Z.; Kumar, S.; Murakami, H.A.; Crick, D.C.; Crans, D.C. Decavanadate Inhibits Mycobacterial Growth More Potently Than Other Oxovanadates. Front. Chem. 2018, 6, 519. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  16. Rehder, D. Vanadium. Its role in humans. In Interrelations between Essential Metal Ions and Human Diseases; Sigel, A., Sigel, H., Sigel, R.K., Eds.; Springer: Berlin/Heidelberg, Germany, 2013; pp. 139–167. [Google Scholar]
  17. Pessoa, J.C.; Etcheverry, S.; Gambino, D. Vanadium compounds in medicine. Coord. Chem. Rev. 2015, 301–302, 24–48. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  18. Rehder, D. Vanadium in health issues. ChemTexts 2018, 4, 20. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  19. Pessoa, J.C. Thirty years through vanadium chemistry. J. Inorg. Biochem. 2015, 147, 4–24. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  20. Turner, T.L.; Nguyen, V.H.; McLauchlan, C.C.; Dymon, Z.; Dorsey, B.M.; Hooker, J.D.; Jones, M.A. Inhibitory effects of decavanadate on several enzymes and Leishmania tarentolae In Vitro. J. Inorg. Biochem. 2012, 108, 96–104. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  21. Mendez, R.S.; Dorsey, B.M.; Mclauchlan, C.C.; Beio, M.; Turner, T.; Nguyen, V.H.; Su, A.; Beynon, W.; Friesen, J.A.; Jones, M. Vanadium Complexes Are in vitro Inhibitors of Leishmania Secreted Acid Phosphatases. Int. J. Chem. 2013, 6, 35. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  22. Adriazola, I.O.; Amaral, A.E.D.; Amorim, J.C.; Correia, B.L.; Petkowicz, C.L.O.; Mercê, A.L.R.; Noleto, G.R. Macrophage activation and leishmanicidal activity by galactomannan and its oxovanadium (IV/V) complex in vitro. J. Inorg. Biochem. 2014, 132, 45–51. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  23. Scalese, G.; Machado, I.; Salinas, G.; Pérez-Díaz, L.; Gambino, D. Heteroleptic Oxidovanadium(V) Complexes with Activity against Infective and Non-Infective Stages of Trypanosoma cruzi. Molecules 2021, 26, 5375. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  24. Chohan, Z.H.; Sumrra, S.H.; Youssoufi, M.H.; Hadda, T.B. Metal based biologically active compounds: Design, synthesis, and antibacterial/antifungal/cytotoxic properties of triazole-derived Schiff bases and their oxovanadium(IV) complexes. Eur. J. Med. Chem. 2010, 45, 2739–2747. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  25. Pahontu, E.; Julea, F.; Rosu, T.; Purcarea, V.; Chumakov, Y.; Petrenco, P.; Gulea, A. Antibacterial, antifungal and in vitro antileukaemia activity of metal complexes with thiosemicarbazones. J. Cell. Mol. Med. 2015, 19, 865–878. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  26. Jayaseelan, P.; Akila, E.; Rani, M.U.; Rajavel, R. Synthesis, spectral characterization, electrochemical, anti-microbial, DNA binding and cleavage studies of new binuclear Schiff base metal(II) complexes derived from o-hydroxyacetophenone. J. Saudi Chem. Soc. 2016, 20, 625–634. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  27. Li, H.; Gong, H.; Qi, Y.; Li, J.; Ji, X.; Sun, J.; Tian, R.; Bao, H.; Song, X.; Chen, Q.; et al. In vitro and in vivo antifungal activities and mechanism of heteropolytungstates against Candida species. Sci. Rep. 2017, 7, 16942. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  28. Guo, S.; Yang, W.; Zhao, M.; Tian, R.; Zhang, B.; Qi, Y. In Vitro Anticandidal Activity and Mechanism of a Polyoxovanadate Functionalized by Zn-Fluconazole Complexes. Molecules 2018, 23, 1122. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  29. Bijelic, A.; Aureliano, M.; Rompel, A. The antibacterial activity of polyoxometalates: Structures, antibiotic effects and future perspectives. Chem. Commun. 2018, 54, 1153–1169. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  30. Faleiro, L.; Marques, A.; Martins, J.; Jordão, L.; Nogueira, I.; Gumerova, N.I.; Rompel, A.; Aureliano, M. The Preyssler-Type Polyoxotungstate Exhibits Anti-Quorum Sensing, Antibiofilm, and Antiviral Activities. Biology 2022, 11, 994. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
Figure 1. Pharmacological and/or biological activities of vanadium compounds including POVs.
Figure 1. Pharmacological and/or biological activities of vanadium compounds including POVs.
Msf 11 00008 g001
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Share and Cite

MDPI and ACS Style

Fraqueza, G.; Aureliano, M. Polyoxovanadates Contribution to Pharmacological, Antimicrobial and Toxicological Actions of Vanadium. Med. Sci. Forum 2022, 11, 8.

AMA Style

Fraqueza G, Aureliano M. Polyoxovanadates Contribution to Pharmacological, Antimicrobial and Toxicological Actions of Vanadium. Medical Sciences Forum. 2022; 11(1):8.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Fraqueza, Gil, and Manuel Aureliano. 2022. "Polyoxovanadates Contribution to Pharmacological, Antimicrobial and Toxicological Actions of Vanadium" Medical Sciences Forum 11, no. 1: 8.

Article Metrics

Back to TopTop