Structure-activity relationships of synthetic cordycepin analogues as experimental therapeutics for African trypanosomiasis

J Med Chem. 2013 Dec 27;56(24):9861-73. doi: 10.1021/jm401530a. Epub 2013 Dec 10.


Novel methods for treatment of African trypanosomiasis, caused by infection with Trypanosoma brucei are needed. Cordycepin (3'-deoxyadenosine, 1a) is a powerful trypanocidal compound in vitro but is ineffective in vivo because of rapid metabolic degradation by adenosine deaminase (ADA). We elucidated the structural moieties of cordycepin required for trypanocidal activity and designed analogues that retained trypanotoxicity while gaining resistance to ADA-mediated metabolism. 2-Fluorocordycepin (2-fluoro-3'-deoxyadenosine, 1b) was identified as a selective, potent, and ADA-resistant trypanocidal compound that cured T. brucei infection in mice. Compound 1b is transported through the high affinity TbAT1/P2 adenosine transporter and is a substrate of T. b. brucei adenosine kinase. 1b has good preclinical properties suitable for an oral drug, albeit a relatively short plasma half-life. We present a rapid and efficient synthesis of 2-halogenated cordycepins, also useful synthons for the development of additional novel C2-substituted 3'-deoxyadenosine analogues to be evaluated in development of experimental therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Deoxyadenosines / chemical synthesis
  • Deoxyadenosines / chemistry
  • Deoxyadenosines / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Structure
  • Parasitic Sensitivity Tests
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Trypanocidal Agents / chemical synthesis
  • Trypanocidal Agents / chemistry
  • Trypanocidal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / drug effects
  • Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense / drug effects
  • Trypanosomiasis, African / drug therapy*


  • Deoxyadenosines
  • Trypanocidal Agents
  • cordycepin