Synthesis of Nitrostyrylthiazolidine-2,4-dione Derivatives Displaying Antileishmanial Potential

Omar Khoumeri, Sébastien Hutter, Nicolas Primas, Caroline Castera-Ducros, Sandra Carvalho, Susan Wyllie, Mohamed Lotfi Efrit, Dimitri Fayolle, Marc Since, Patrice Vanelle, Pierre Verhaeghe, Nadine Azas and Hussein El-Kashef.

Pharmaceuticals. 2024; 17(7):878.


A series of 61 thiazolidine-2,4-diones bearing a styryl group at position 5 was synthesized in 2–5 steps and their structure was proved by elemental and spectral analyses. The compounds obtained were evaluated in vitro against the promastigote stage of the kinetoplastid parasite Leishmania infantum and the human HepG2 cell line, to determine selectivity indices and to compare their activities with those of antileishmanial reference drugs. The study of structure–activity relationships indicated the potential of some derivatives bearing a nitro group on the phenyl ring, especially when located at the meta position. Thus, among the tested series, compound 14c appeared as a hit compound with good antileishmanial activity (EC50 = 7 µM) and low cytotoxicity against both the hepatic HepG2 and macrophage THP-1 human cell lines (CC50 = 101 and 121 µM, respectively), leading to good selectivity indices (respectively, 14 and 17), in comparison with the reference antileishmanial drug compound miltefosine (EC50 = 3.3 µM, CC50 = 85 and 30 µM, SI = 26 and 9). Regarding its mechanism of action, among several possibilities, it was demonstrated that compound 14c is a prodrug bioactivated, predominantly by L. donovani nitroreductase 1, likely leading to the formation of cytotoxic metabolites that form covalent adducts in the parasite. Finally, compound 14c is lipophilic (measured CHI LogD7.7 = 2.85) but remains soluble in water (measured PBS solubility at pH7.4 = 16 µM), highlighting the antileishmanial potential of the nitrostyrylthiazolidine-2,4-dione scaffold.