Structure-activity relationships for the antileishmanial and antitrypanosomal activities of 1'-substituted 9-anilinoacridines

J Med Chem. 1997 Aug 1;40(16):2634-42. doi: 10.1021/jm970232h.


Members of the class of 9-anilinoacridine topoisomerase II inhibitors bearing lipophilic electron-donating 1'-anilino substituents are active against both the promastigote and amastigote forms of the parasite Leishmania major. A series of analogues of the known 1'-NHhexyl lead compound were prepared and evaluated against L. major in macrophage culture to further develop structure-activity relationships (SAR). Toxicity toward mammalian cells was measured in a human leukemia cell line, and the ratio of the two IC50 values (IC50(J)/IC50(L)) was used as a measure of the in vitro therapeutic index (IVTI). A 3,6-diNMe2 substitution pattern on the acridine greatly increased toxicity to L. major without altering mammalian toxicity, increasing IVTIs over that of the lead compound. The 2-OMe, 6-Cl acridine substitution pattern used in the antimalarial drug mepacrine also resulted in potent antileishmanial activity and high IVTIs. Earlier suggestions of the utility of 2'-OR groups in lowering mammalian cytotoxicity were not borne out in this wider study. A series of very lipophilic 1'-NRR (symmetric dialkylamino)-substituted analogues showed relatively high antileishmanial potency, but no clear trend was apparent across the series, and none were superior to the 1'-NH(CH2)5Me subclass. Subsets of the most active 1'-N(R)(CH2)5Me- and 1'-N(alkyl)2-substituted compounds against L. major were also evaluated against Leishmania donovani, Trypanosoma cruzi, and Trypanosoma brucei, but no consistent SAR could be discerned in these physiologically diverse test systems. The present study has confirmed earlier conclusions that lipophilic electron-donating groups at the 1'-position of 9-anilinoacridines provide high activity against L. major, but the SAR patterns observed do not carry over to the other parasites studied.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amsacrine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Amsacrine / chemistry
  • Amsacrine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / chemistry*
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Leishmania donovani / drug effects
  • Leishmania major / drug effects
  • Macrophages / parasitology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Models, Chemical
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Trypanocidal Agents / chemistry
  • Trypanocidal Agents / pharmacology
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / drug effects
  • Trypanosoma cruzi / drug effects
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antiprotozoal Agents
  • Trypanocidal Agents
  • Amsacrine
  • 9-anilinoacridine