Therapeutic potential of uracil and its derivatives in countering pathogenic and physiological disorders

Eur J Med Chem. 2020 Dec 1:207:112801. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2020.112801. Epub 2020 Sep 5.


Uracil is one of the most notable pharmacophores in medicinal chemistry as the pyrimidine nucleobase forms an integral part of many commercial drugs. Though the name uracil is usually associated with cancer drugs, there are many uracil-based compounds which can treat different diseases when they are employed. So far, there has been no in-depth review concerning uracil drugs in the market, or in the different stages of clinical trials, including those approved or discontinued. The current work focuses on the importance of uracil and its derivatives in treating different diseases. The use of uracil compounds in treating viral infections, cancer, diabetic, thyroid and autosomal recessive disorders are discussed in the review. The mechanism of action of each uracil drug with emphasis on their structure and properties are discussed in detail. The targeted action of these drugs on sites or on the different stages of a disorder/pathogenic life cycle are also discussed. This review encompasses uracil drugs approved as well as those in development from the 1950's onwards. The utility of uracil in drug discovery and its association with a wide range of diseases is brought forth within this review to demonstrate its potential to a wider audience.

Keywords: Anti-cancer; Antiviral; DPP-4 inhibition; Hereditary orotic aciduria; Hyperthyroidism; Uracil.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antiviral Agents / chemistry
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / chemistry
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Uracil / chemistry*
  • Uracil / pharmacology
  • Uracil / therapeutic use*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Uracil