Therapeutic azulenyl nitrone antioxidants

James J Ley, Florida International University


The reactions of nitrones with free radicals have been widely studied both in vitro and in vivo. In comparison to classical chain-breaking phenolic antioxidants (such as Vitamin E and butylated hydroxytoluene [BHT]), conventional phenyl-substituted nitrones have much higher oxidation potentials. Azulenyl-substituted nitrones have lower oxidation potentials than conventional nitrones and react efficiently with free radicals in vitro and in vivo. The design and synthesis of novel azulenyl nitrones with yet lower oxidation potentials, prepared from commercially available guaiazulene, has produced several 1,2-trans -bis-azulenyl ethene compounds with enhanced antioxidant activity. A convenient 1H NMR-based assay for assessing the potency of chain-breaking antioxidants has shown these novel nitrones to be more than 300 times more potent in inhibiting the free radical-mediated aerobic peroxidation of cumene than α-phenyl-N-tert-butyl nitrone (PBN) and the experimental stroke drug NXY-059. The low oxidation potential of these novel nitrones and the stability of the corresponding radical cation have been implicated in the explanation of the increased antioxidant potency of these second generation azulenyl nitrones. Based on the results of these in vitro studies, the first of these novel compounds, stilbazulenyl nitrone (STAZN), was investigated in animal models of disease known to involve free radical-mediated pathology. In view of STAZN's marked lipophilicity and anticipated blood brain barrier permeability, neurodegenerative conditions were investigated. All animal experiments were performed at the University of Miami by members of the Ginsberg research group. STAZN was neuroprotective in traumatic brain injury in rats. It also provided exceptional neuroprotection in an animal model of stroke. The concentration of STAZN required for neuroprotection was 300–600 times less than doses of PBN or NXY-059 required for similar effect. Thus, the benefits of greater antioxidant potency sought by lowering the oxidation potential of nitrones appear to have been reaped both in vitro and in vivo. In spite of the challenges and difficulties in understanding free radical-mediated pathology, this work establishes that considerations such as redox potential and lipophilicity can provide a very fruitful rationale for the design of therapeutic azulenyl nitrone antioxidants.

Subject Area

Organic chemistry

Recommended Citation

Ley, James J, "Therapeutic azulenyl nitrone antioxidants" (2004). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3130315.