1.1 General:

A sulfonamide grouping is derived from a sulfonic acid group by
replacing its hydroxyl group with an amino group. Sulfonamides, also
known as sulfa drugs, have a history that dates back to almost 70-80
years. A sulfonyl group plays a very important role as a key
constituent of number of biologically active molecules [1&2].
Sulfonamides occupy a unique position in the drug industry and
exhibit a wide spectrum of biological activities [3&4].
The first clinically used sulfonamide was named prontosil I that
showed protective action against streptococci in mice [5]. Prontosil
was active in vivo, but ineffective in vitro, which led to the conclusion
that prontosil itself was not the active drug. When metabolized in the
body, prontosil produces sulfanilamide II, which is the real active
agent [5]. It acts by interfering with p-aminobenzoic acid utilization
by the infecting bacteria.

This discovery started great efforts in the investigation and
production of new sulfonamides. Several drugs containing
sulfonamide functionality are in clinical use which include
antibacterial and antifungal drugs [6&7], carbonic anhydrase
inhibitors [8-10], anti-inflammatory agents [11], anticonvulsant agents

[12] antimigraine agents [13], hypoglycemic, protease inhibitors [14]
and agents acting against diabetic mellitus [15]. They are also found
to have extensive applications in cancer chemotherapy [16]. Viagra, a
sulfa drug is one of the recent block bluster molecules used for
erectile dysfunction [17]. Some sulfonamides have proved to be useful
as herbicides [18] and fungicides [19]. Aryl sulfonyl substituted
derivatives have been used as protecting groups for oxygen and
nitrogen functionality [20]. Sulfonamide derivatives of azo dyes have
been reported to improve stability and lubrication [5].
1.2 Structure:
Sulfonamides are compounds, which have a general structure
represented by III. In this structure, R may be alkyl, aryl or hetero
aryl etc. R1, R2 may be hydrogen, alkyl, aryl or hetero aryl groups.

1.3 History of Sulfonamides:
In 1932, the German dye manufacturing company prepared a
red azo dye, named prontosil for its dye properties [21]. Remarkably, it
was discovered that prontosil showed antibacterial action when it was
used to dye wool. In 1935, Gerhard Domagk published the results of
his research work indicating that prontosil was capable of curing
staphylococcal infections in mice and rabbits [22]. In 1939, Domagk
earned nobel prize in medicine for this important discovery but an

order from Hitler prevented Domagk from accepting the honour [23].
After sulfanilamide discovery, thousands of chemical variations
were studied and the best therapeutic results were obtained from the
compounds in which one hydrogen of the SO2NH2 group was replaced
by heterocyclic ring [24]. To date more than twenty thousand
sulfanilamide derivatives, analogs and related compounds have been
synthesized. These synthesis have resulted in the discovery of new
compounds with varying pharmacological properties [24].
1.4 Classification of Sulfonamides:
The general term ‘’sulfonamides’’ has been used for derivatives
of p-aminobenzenesulfonamide (sulfanilamide), whereas specific
compounds are described as N
or N
-substituted sulfanilamides,
depending on whether the substitution is on the sulfonamide amino
group or aromatic amino group, respectively.

Most of the sulfonamides used currently are N
Based on the structural variations, Johnson [25] divided sulfonamides
into three groups as follows:
 N
-acyl derivatives
 N
-heterocyclic derivatives containing six-membered rings
(e.g. pyridine, pyrimidines, pyridazines and pyrazines).
 N
-heterocyclic derivatives containing five-membered rings
(e.g. thiazole, oxazole, isoxazole, 1,3,4-thiadiazole and yrazole).

Another classification of sulfonamides is based on chemical
structure, duration of action, spectrum of activity and therapeutic
applications. The classification rate of absorption and half-life appears
to be clinically relevant. Based on this the sulfonamides are classified
into three groups [26]. 1. Short Acting. 2. Intermediate Acting. 3. Long
1. Short Acting: sulfonamides with a half-life less than 10 hours.
(e.g. sulfamethazole, sulfisoxazole and sulfanilamide have been
used for the treatment of urinary tract infections).
2. Intermediate Acting: Sulfonamides with a half-life between 10-
24 hours. (e.g. sulfamethoxazole and sulfadiazine have been
used for various infections especially active against invasive
aspergillosis in AIDS patients).
3. Long Acting: Sulfonamides with a half-life longer than 24
hours. (e.g. Sulfadimethoxine and Sulfadioxine have been used
for the treatment of ulceration colitis).
In addition to this, there are different types of sulfonamides
which have been used in various types of infections [26] such as
mucous membrane, sulfabenzamide (V), superficial ocular
infections, sulfaacetamide sodium (VI), urinary infections,
sulfadiazine (VII) and sulfamethazole (VIII), anticancer and others.

1.5.1 Antibacterial and antifungal:
Sulfonamides are a class of broad-spectrum synthetic
bacteriostatic agents. They inhibit multiplication of bacteria but do
not actively kill bacteria. They have been used against most gram-
positive and many gram-negative organisms, some fungi and certain
protozoa. A large number of substituted sulfonamide derivatives are
used in pharmaceutical preparations as antibacterial and antifungal
agents [27]. Some of the important sulfonamide derivatives, which
have commercial importance, are shown in Table-1.1.
Table-1.1: Some important sulfonamide derivatives used as
antibacterial and antifungal agents of commercial importance.
Drug name Therapeutic use Structure













Antibiotic activity
against a wide
range of Gram-
negative and





1.5.2 Sulfonamides as carbonic anhydrase inhibitors:
Carbonic anhydrase is an enzyme that helps to regulate the acid-
base balance and pH in blood and other tissues. One of the functions
of the enzyme is to interconvert carbon dioxide and bicarbonate.
Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors are a class of pharmaceuticals that
suppress the activity of carbonic anhydrases. The clinical use has
been established as antiglucoma agents, diuretics, and antiepileptic in
the management of mountain sickness, gastric and duodenal ulcers,
neurological disorders or osteoporosis [28-30]. Some of the important
sulfonamide derivatives, which are of commercial importance, are
shown in Table-1.2.
Table-1.2: Some important sulfonamide derivatives used as
carbonic anhydrase inhibitors of commercial importance.
Drug name Therapeutic use Structure


CA Inhibitor


CA Inhibitor


Zonisamide Anticonvulsants




Clopamide Diuretics

Furosemide Diuretics

Bumetanide Diuretics

Chlortalidone Diuretics

1.5.3 Sulfonamides as anticancer agents:
Anticancer drugs are used to control the growth of cancerous
cells. Cancer is commonly defined as the uncontrolled growth of cells,
with loss of differentiation and commonly with metastasis, spread of
the cancer to other tissues and organs. Cancers are malignant
growths. In contrast, benign growths remain encapsulated and grow
within a well-defined area. Benign tumors, if untreated may be fatal,
due to pressure on essential organs, as in the case of a benign brain

tumour. Surgery or radiations are the preferred method of treating
growth, which has a well defined location. Drug therapy is used when
the tumour is spread, or may spread to other areas of the body. Some
of the sulfonamides exhibit anticancer activity. A few examples are
given in Table 1.3.
Table-1.3: Some important sulfonamide derivatives used as
anticancer agents of commercial importance.
Drug name Therapeutic use Structure
Batabulin Anticancer

Pazopanib Anticancer

Tamsulosin Anticancer

ABT-751 Anticancer

E-7070 Anticancer

E-7820 Anticancer


1.5.4 Sulfonamides as Antiviral and Anti-HIV Agents:
Human immunodefficiency virus (HIV) has affected more than
36 million people world wide [31]. Some of the sulfonamides possess
activity against HIV protease. Ohtaka et. al. [32] showed that TMC-
126 displays 13-fold higher potency than that of amprenavir [32]. A
few examples of antiviral /anti HIV agents are given in Table 1.4.
Table-1.4: Some important sulfonamide derivatives used as anti-
HIV agents of commercial importance.
Drug name Therapeutic use Structure
HIV infection
Protease inhibitor

HIV infection
Protease inhibitor





1.5.5 Sulfonamides as COX-2 specific inhibitors:
Traditional COX-2 inhibitors such as ibuprofen are known to
have low selectivity and hence may induce ulcer, bleeding and
gastroduodenal erosion. COX-2 selective inhibitor is a non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that directly targets COX-2, an
enzyme responsible for inflammation and pain. However, a specific
COX-2 inhibitor reduces undesirable side effects [33]. Some of the
sulfonamide derivatives act as COX-2 inhibitors, for example
Celecoxib and Valedecoxib, which were developed by Pfizer, as COX-2
specific inhibitors for the treatment of osteo-arthritis and rheumatiod
arthritis [34&35]. Some of the COX-2 inhibitors are given in table 1.5.


Table-1.5: Some important sulfonamide derivatives used as Non-
steroidal anti-inflammatory agents of commercial importance.
Drug name Therapeutic use Structure



1.5.6 Sulfonamides as anti-migraine agents:
An antimigraine drug is a medication intended to reduce the
effects or intensity of migraine headache. Examples are the triptans.
Triptans are a new class of compounds developed for the treatment of
migraine attacks [36]. The first one of this class is sumatriptan. The
newer triptans are zolmitriptan, naratriptan, avitriptan, almotriptan
and frovatriptan which display high antogonist activity mainly at the
serotonin 5-HT1B and 5-HT1D receptor subtypes. Some of the

sulfonamide derivatives act as antimigraine agents. A few examples
are given in Table 1.6.
Table-1.6: Some important sulfonamide derivatives used as anti-
migraine agents of commercial importance.
Drug name Therapeutic use Structure




1.5.7 Sulfonamides as Male Erectile Dysfunction:
Erectile dysfunction is defined as the consistent inability to
maintain an erect penis. Many factors can contribute to the on set of
ED [37]. This problem may be due to physical or psychological causes
may be stress, performance anxiety etc. A large number of
sulfonamides have been used as therapeutic cure for this problem. A
very well known recent example is sildenafil citrate salt which is

marketed widely with brand name viagra by Pfizer group. A few
examples are given in Table 1.7.
Table-1.7: Some important sulfonamide derivatives used as
curative agents for male erectile dysfunction of commercial
Drug name Therapeutic use Structure
Male Erectile

Male Erectile

Male Erectile

Male Erectile


1.5.8 Sulfonamides as Antimalarial Agents:
Malaria is one of the most infectious epidemic diseases caused
by protozoa parasites on the genus falciparum. Approximately 500
million people world wide are known to be suffering with this disease
every year causing 2.5 million deaths, mainly children in African
countries [38]. A few examples of anti malarial sulfonamides are given
Table-1.8: Some important sulfonamide derivatives having anti
malarial properties of commercial importance.
Drug name Therapeutic use Structure



1.5.9 Sulfonamides as anti-diabetic Agents:
Anti-diabetic medications treat diabetes mellitus by lowering
glucose levels in the blood. With the exception of insulin exenatide
and pramlintide, all are administered orally and are thus also called
oral hypoglycemic agents or oral antihyperglycemic agents. There are
different classes of anti-diabetic drugs and their selection depends on
the nature of the diabetes, age and situation of the person as well as
other factors.

Diabetes mellitus type 1 is a disease caused by the lack of
insulin. Insulin must be used in Type I which must be injected.
Diabetes mellitus type 2 is a disease of insulin resistance by
cells. Treatments include (1) agents which increase the amount of
insulin secreted by the pancreas, (2) agents which increase the
sensitivity of target organs to insulin, and (3) agents which decrease
the rate at which glucose is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.
Table-1.9. Some important sulfonamide derivatives used as
antidiabatic agents of commercial importance.
Drug name Therapeutic use Structure

Antidiabatic drug

Gliclazide Antidiabatic drug

Tolbutamide Antidiabatic drug

Tolazamide Antidiabatic drug

Antidiabatic drug


Gliquidone Antidiabatic drug

Glipizide Antidiabatic drug

Due to the broad applicability of sulfonamides, a wide variety of
methods have been reported in literature for the preparation of
sulfonamides [39&40]. Some of the most common and recent methods
are illustrated briefly below.
1.6.1 Sulfonamides from sulfonylchlorides and sulfonic acids:
A general method for the synthesis of sulfonamides involves the
coupling of sulfonyl chloride with primary or secondary amine or a
substituted amine. Sulfonyl chlorides can be prepared from the
corresponding sulfonic or sulfinic acid by reaction with SOCl2, PCl5 or
POCl3, or by bubbling of chlorine gas through thiols in aqueous acid

…………….. Scheme – 1.1
Rad et. al. [46] developed a mild and efficient method for the
synthesis of sulfonamides. The reaction of amine sulfonate salt (XI)
with cyanuric chloride, using triethylamine as base and anhydrous

acetonitrile as solvent at room temperature gives the corresponding
sulfonamide (XII) in good to excellent yields.

…………….. Scheme – 1.2
Kataoka et. al. [47] prepared the alkyl and aryl sulfonamides
(XIV) by treatment of corresponding sodium sulfonates (XIII) with
triphenylphosphine dibromide followed by reaction with amines.

…………….. Scheme – 1.3
Chavastri et. al. [48] prepared sulfonamides (XV) using
trichloroacetonitrile-triphenylphosphine complex from sulfonic acid
(IX) in dichloro methane solvent and achieved optimum yield when
(Cl3CCN:PPh3: sulfonic acid) is used in the ratio 3:3:1.

…………….. Scheme – 1.4
Luca et. al. [49] reported an easy method for the synthesis of
sulfonamides (XVI) in good yields from sulfonic acids (IX) by

performing the reaction of sulfonylchlorides, generated, in situ with
amines under microwave irradiation.

…………….. Scheme – 1.5
Wright et. al. [50] reported a method for the formation of
sulfonamide (XVIII) from thiols (XVII). Oxidation of a thiol using
sodium hypochlorite resulted in the sulfonyl chloride, which on
treatment with benzylamine gave the sulfonamide.

…………….. Scheme – 1.6
Bonk. et. al. [51] prepared sulfonamides (XIX) from thiols (XVII).
Thus, thiol was converted into sulfonylchloride using trichloro
cyanuric acid (TCCA) and benzyltrimethylammonium chloride in water
and acetonitrile, which on further reaction with amine gave the
corresponding sulfonamide.

…………….. Scheme – 1.7

Bahrani et. al. [52] reported the direct oxidative conversion of
thiol (XVII) derivatives into the corresponding sulfonyl chlorides
through oxidative chlorination using combination of H2O2 and SOCl2.
This on reaction with amines, the corresponding sulfonamides (XX)
were obtained in excellent yields.

…………….. Scheme – 1.8
Barrett et. al. [53] reported the reaction of sulphur dioxide with
various organometallic reagents (XXI) to give sulfinic acid salts, which
can be directly treated with sulfuryl chloride and amine to furnish
sulfonamides (XXII) in good yields.
…………….. Scheme – 1.9
Zaho. et. al. [54] reported the Zn/CuI-mediated coupling of alkyl
halides (XXI) with vinyl sulfonamide (XXIII) in formamide (XXIV) as
solvent to obtain sulfonamide in high yields.

…………….. Scheme – 1.10

Huntress et. al. [55] reported chlorosulfonation of arene (XXV) to
give sulfonyl chloride and subsequent reaction with an amine affords
aryl sulfonamides (XXVI).

…………….. Scheme – 1.11
Benzyl chloride (XXVII), on reaction with thiourea, gave S-
benzylthiouronium chloride salt (XXVIII) [56]. This, on treatment with
chlorine gas, gave the sulfonyl chloride which was converted into
sulfonamide (XXIX) by treating with ammonia.
…………….. Scheme – 1.12
1.6.2 Sulfonamides from sulfenamides:
Another innovative example of sulfonamides synthesis was
illustrated in the synthesis of 6-uracilsulfonamide by Greenbaum et.
al. [57]. In this method, 2,4-dimethoxy-6-pyrimidinesulfenamide
(XXX) was oxidized to 2,4-dimethoxy-6-pyrimidinesulfonamide (XXXI)
using KMnO4 in 64% yield.

…………….. Scheme – 1.13
Schwam et. al. [58] also used a similar methodology for the
synthesis of 6-ethoxybenzothiazole-2-sulfonamide (XXXIII) as
potential carbonic anhydrase inhibitor in 80% yield. In this synthesis
6-ethoxy-2-benzothiazolesulfenamide (XXXII) was oxidized to get 6-

…………….. Scheme – 1.14
Revankar et. al. [59-62] reported the oxidation of 2-amino-9H-
purin-6-sulfenamide (XXXIV) into 2-amino-9H-purin-6-sulfonamide
(XXXV) using one equivalent of m-CPBA in 48% yield.

…………….. Scheme – 1.15
1.6.3 Sulfonamides by N-arylation:
Cao et. al. [63] reported the palladium catalysed N-arylation of
sulfonamide under microwave irradiation. Thus, 4-chloroquinoline

(XXXVI) reacted with benzenemethanesulfonamide (XXXVII) in the
presence of Cs2CO3 palladium catalyst in 1,4-dioxane to give 1-phenyl-
N-(quinolin-4-yl)methanesulfonamide (XXXVIII).

…………….. Scheme – 1.16
Lam et. al. [64] described an effective method for N-arylation on
sulfonamide (XXXIX) using cupric acetate and arylboronic acid
(XXXX) to get N-arylsulfonamide (XXXXI).

…………….. Scheme – 1.17
Kunz et. al. reported [65] copper-catalyzed synthesis of aryl
sulfonamides under microwave irradiation using potassium carbonate
at 195

…………….. Scheme – 1.18
Guo et. al. [66] reported the synthesis of sulfonamides (XXXXVII)
using copper (I) catalyzed coupling with aryl bromide (XXXXV) and

substituted sulfonamide (XXXXVI) in the presence of a ligand and
K3PO4 as base in DMF solvent.

…………….. Scheme – 1.19
1.6.4 Miscellaneous methods
Gupta and co-workers reported [67] one step synthesis of
sulfonamide (L) with aluminium chloride in toluene.

…………….. Scheme – 1.20
Katritzky et. al. [68] reported a new method for the synthesis of
N-acylsulfonamides (LIII) from N-acylbenzotriazoles (LI) using of
sodium hydride.

…………….. Scheme – 1.21
Gaby et. al. [69] reported that the reaction of 4-sulfonamido aryl
isothiocyanate derivative (LIV) with aminothiophenol (LV) under reflux
condition in DMF and triethyl amine to yield benzothizole sulfonamide
(LVI) derivative.

…………….. Scheme – 1.22
1.7. Applications of sulfonamides in Organic Chemistry:
Sulfonamides have been used in the field of synthetic organic
chemistry. Some of these methods are discussed below.
1.7.1 Synthesis of secondary Amines:
Kan et. al. [70] reported an efficient synthetic method for the
preparation of secondary amines using sulfonamides. In this method,
primary amine (LVII) was reacted with nitrobenzene sulfonyl chloride
(LVIII) to give the corresponding sulfonamide (LIX), which on
alkylation with appropriate alkyl halide, followed by deprotection gave
the secondary amine (LXI).
…………….. Scheme – 1.23
1.7.2 Synthesis of Isothiourea:
Reaction of p-toluenesulfonamide (LXII) with phenyl isothi
ocyanate (LXIII) and subsequent alkylation with ethyl bromoacetate
form S-ethoxycarbonylmethyliso-thiourea (LXIV) [71].


…………….. Scheme – 1.24
1.7.3 Enantioselective Reduction of α-Ketoesters to 1,2-Diols:
Wang et. al. [72] reported that various -ketoesters (LXV) have
been reduced to the corresponding 1,2-diols (LXVI) in high
enantioselectivity using the NaBH4/Me3SiCl system and polymer-
supported chiral sulfonamide.

…………….. Scheme – 1.25
1.7.4 Synthesis of New strongly acidic Catalytic Material:
Strongly acidic material was synthesized by Koppel et. al. [73] by
stepwise replacement of oxygen moieties by =NSO2CF3 groups in p-
toluene sulfonamide by reacting with (CF3SO2)2 CH2.

…………….. Scheme – 1.26


1.7.5 Novel Terminators of cationic cyclizations:
Sulfonamide group has been used as terminator of cationic
cyclization the formation of pyrrolidines in the presence of
trifluoromethanesulfonic acid [74].

…………….. Scheme – 1.27
1.7.6 Synthesis of pyrrolidines:
Jones and co-workers [75] synthesized trans-2,5-disubstituted-3-
iodopyrrolidines from 5-endo-tring iodocyclization of the (E)-homolytic
sulfonamides in excellent yield.

…………….. Scheme – 1.28
1.7.7 Synthesis of N,N-Dialkylsulfonamides under microwave
Zare et. al. [76] reported the Aza-Michael addition of
sulfonamides in to α, β-unsaturated ester in the presence of catalytic
amount of NaOH and tetrabutylammonium bromide (TBAB) under
micro wave irradiation to afford N,N-dialkyl sulfonamides.

…………….. Scheme – 1.29
1.7.8 Synthesis of Sulfonamide Chiral Ligands:
Balsells et. al. [77] prepared new class of sulfonamide chiral
ligands. These ligands are prepared from trans 1,2-
diaminocyclohexane by reaction with sulfonyl chlorides to give
aminosulfonamide compounds. These compounds are condensed with
salicylaldehyde derivatives to provide a sulfonamide Schiff bases
compound which represents a new class of chiral ligands.
…………….. Scheme – 1.30