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Hydroxamic Acids: Biological Properties and Potential Uses as Therapeutic Agents

Hydroxylamines, Oximes and Hydroxamic Acids (2010)

  1. Antonello Mai

Published Online: 15 NOV 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470682531.pat0515

Patai's Chemistry of Functional Groups

Patai's Chemistry of Functional Groups

How to Cite

Mai, A. 2010. Hydroxamic Acids: Biological Properties and Potential Uses as Therapeutic Agents. Patai's Chemistry of Functional Groups. .

Author Information

  1. Pasteur Institute—Cenci Bolognetti Foundation, Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Drug Chemistry and Technologies, Rome, Italy

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 NOV 2010


Hydroxamic acids take their biological properties from the ability to chelate metal ions which are important for a variety of biological processes, as well as for the catalytic activity of a number of metalloenzymes. In particular, the preference for chelation of iron and zinc ions by hydroxamates led to derivatives endowed with high potential as therapeutic agents. As iron chelators, most hydroxamates and retro-hydroxamates (zileuton, atreleuton) are potent 5-lipoxygenase inhibitors, useful for treatment of inflammatory diseases, asthma, and cancer, others (deferoxamine) can be used for the molecular control of iron homeostasis during transfusional iron overload, and for the treatment of acute ischemic stroke, thalassemia, and sickle cell anemia. Metal ion complexation by hydroxamates furnished also highly active antibacterial agents, through inhibition of two metal-containing enzymes (peptide deformylase with iron, and UDP-3-O-(R-3-hydroxymyristoyl)-N-acetylglucosamine deacetylase (LpxC) with zinc) crucial for bacterial growth and viability. The ability of hydroxamates to efficiently complex zinc ion makes them useful compounds for inhibiting matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and related enzymes (see for example prinomastat) responsible for cancer and arthritis diseases, and histone deacetylases (HDACs), a family of enzymes involved in gene silencing and loss of tumor suppressor functions (see for example vorinostat and romidepsin, recently approved by FDA for the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma).


  • hydroxamic acids;
  • metal ion chelation;
  • 5-lipoxygenase inhibitors;
  • iron chelators;
  • peptide deformylase inhibitors;
  • UDP-3-O-(R-3-hydroxymyristoyl)-N-acetylglucosamine deacetylase (LpxC) inhibitors;
  • matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) inhibitors;
  • histone deacetylases (HDACs) inhibitors