Synthesis and Medicinal Applications of N-Heterocyclic Carbene Complexes Based on Caffeine and Other Xanthines

12 February 2024, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Xanthines are purine derivatives predominantly found in plants. Xanthines include compounds such as caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine and exhibit a variety of pharmacological properties, demonstrating efficacy in treating neurodegenerative disorders, respiratory dysfunctions, and also in cancer. The versatile attributes of these materials render them privileged scaffolds for the development of compounds for various biological applications. Xanthines are N-heterocyclic carbene precursors that combine a pyrimidine and an imidazole ring. Owing to their biological relevance, xanthines have been employed as N-heterocyclic carbenes in the development of metallodrugs for anticancer and antimicrobial purposes. In this conceptual review, we examine key examples of N-heterocyclic carbene complexes derived from caffeine and other xanthines, elucidating their synthetic methods and describing their pertinent medicinal applications.


N-heterocyclic carbenes
transitio metals
biological actviity


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