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Leishmaniases are neglected diseases that can be treated with a limited drug arsenal; the development of new molecules is therefore a priority. Recent evidence indicates that endoperoxides, including artemisinin and its derivatives, possess antileishmanial activity. Here, 1,2-dioxanes were synthesized with their corresponding tetrahydropyrans lacking the peroxide bridge, to ascertain if this group is a key pharmacophoric requirement for the antileishmanial bioactivity. Newly synthesized compounds were examined in vitro, and their mechanism of action was preliminarily investigated. Three endoperoxides and their corresponding tetrahydropyrans effectively inhibited the growth of Leishmania donovani promastigotes and amastigotes, and iron did not play a significant role in their activation. Further, reactive oxygen species were produced in both endoperoxide- and tetrahydropyran-treated promastigotes. In conclusion, the peroxide group proved not to be crucial for the antileishmanial bioactivity of endoperoxides, under the tested conditions. Our findings reveal the potential of both 1,2-dioxanes and tetrahydropyrans as lead compounds for novel therapies against Leishmania.


Margherita Ortalli, Stefania Varani, Giorgia Cimato, Ruben Veronesi, Arianna Quintavalla, Marco Lombardo, Magda Monari, Claudio Trombini. Evaluation of the Pharmacophoric Role of the O-O Bond in Synthetic Antileishmanial Compounds: Comparison between 1,2-Dioxanes and Tetrahydropyrans. Journal of medicinal chemistry. 2020 Nov 12;63(21):13140-13158

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PMID: 33091297

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