The Open Medicinal Chemistry Journal

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Antitumor Activity In Vitro Provided by N-Alkyl-Nitroimidazole Compounds

Janny A. Villa-Pulgarin1, Constain H. Salamanca2, Jose Oñate-Garzón3, Ruben E Varela-M3, *
1 Grupo de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Corporación Universitaria Remington, Calle 51 No 51-27 Medellín, Colombia.
2 Laboratorio de Diseño y Formulación de Productos Químicos y Derivados, Departamento de Ciencias Farmacéuticas, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad ICESI, Calle 18 No. 122 -135, Cali, 760035, Colombia.
3 Grupo de Investigación en Química y Biotecnología (QUIBIO), Facultad de Ciencias Básicas, Universidad Santiago de Cali, calle 5 No. 62-00, Cali 760035, Colombia.



Cancer is one of the most common diseases in the world, with over 18 million new cases estimated in 2018. Many of the drugs used for cancer can have significant adverse effects and variable effectiveness. Nitroimidazoles are prodrugs that usually have shown antimicrobial activity specifically antiparasitic. However, its antitumor activity in vitro has barely been explored.


The aim of this study is to determine the influence of the length of the substituted N-alkyl chain in the imidazole ring on the antitumor activity in vitro.


Four nitroimidazoles were obtained by chemical synthesis varying the length of the substituted N-alkyl chain from methyl to butyl. The antitumor activity of N-alkyl-nitroimidazoles was evaluated by MTT assay employing two tumor cell lines (MDA-MB231 and A549).


In this study, it was reported that N-alkyl nitroimidazoles exhibited an LC50 as low as 16.7 µM in breast tumor cells MDA-MB231 while in normal Vero kidney cells, the LC50 was around 30 µM. It was also reported that the length of the substituted N-Alkyl chain in the imidazole ring affects the antitumoral activity in A549 lung cells.


Increasing the length of the substituted N-Alkyl chain in the imidazole ring decreased the antitumor activity against only A549 cancer cells. N-alkyl nitroimidazoles exhibited considerable selectivity towards tumor cell lines.

Keywords: N-Alkyl-Nitroimidazole, Chain length, Antitumor activity, MTT assay, Breast and lung cancer cells, Tumor cells MDA-MB231.

Article Information

Identifiers and Pagination:

Year: 2020
Volume: 14
First Page: 45
Last Page: 48
Publisher Id: TOMCJ-14-45
DOI: 10.2174/1874104502014010045

Article History:

Received Date: 29/03/2020
Revision Received Date: 05/06/2020
Acceptance Date: 22/06/2020
Electronic publication date: 30/07/2020
Collection year: 2020

© 2020 Villa-Pulgarin etal.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Grupo de Investigación en Química y Biotecnología (QUIBIO), Facultad de Ciencias Básicas, Universidad Santiago de Cali, calle 5 No. 62-00, Cali 760035, Colombia Tel:+57-2-5183000, E-mail:

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