Synthesis and anti-leishmanial activity of heterocyclic betulin derivatives

Sami Alakurtti, Tuomo Heiska, Alexandros Kiriazis, Nina Sacerdoti-Sierra, Charles L. Jaffe, Jari Yli-Kauhaluoma*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Betulin, a naturally occurring abundant triterpene is converted in four steps to 3,28-di-O-acetyllupa-12,18-diene. When various 4-substituted urazoles were oxidized to the corresponding urazines with iodobenzene diacetate in the presence of 3,28-di-O-acetyllupa-12,18-diene, new heterocyclic betulin derivatives were produced. These betulin derivatives were examined in a microplate assay at 50 μM for their ability to inhibit the growth of Leishmania donovani axenic amastigotes, a species that causes the fatal visceral leishmaniasis. GI50 (concentration for 50% growth inhibition) values of the most effective compounds were determined and their cytotoxicity on the human macrophage cell line THP-1 evaluated. The anti-leishmanial activity on L. donovani amastigotes growing in macrophages was also examined. The heterocycloadduct between 3,28-di-O-acetyllupa-12,18-diene and 4-methylurazine was the most effective derivative with an GI50 = 8.9 μM against L. donovani amastigotes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1573-1582
Number of pages10
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The financial support from the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes), Foundation for Research of Natural Resources in Finland, Marjatta ja Eino Kollin Säätiö, Academy of Finland (Grant 108376) and the projects by the European Commission (Contract No LSHB-CT-2004-503467 and EU-KBBE-227239) are gratefully acknowledged. C.L.J. holds the Michael and Penny Feiwel Chair in Dermatology and is grateful to the American Friends of Hebrew University for financial support of this project. We thank Adjunct Professor Salme Koskimies for valuable discussions.


  • Antiprotozoal agents
  • Betulin
  • Cycloaddition
  • Leishmania sp.
  • Terpenoids


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