Photochemical reactions of thiols with organic nitrates - Oxygen atom transfer via a thionitrate

Jennifer L. Clarke, Irida Kastrati, Linda J. Johnston, Gregory R.J. Thatcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Nitroglycerin is an organic nitrate that has been used in the clinical treatment of angina for 130 years, yet important details of its mechanism of action remain unanswered. The biological activity of nitrates suggests that they are bioactivated to NO via a three-electron reduction. The involvement of free or bound protein thiols in this reduction has often been proposed. To examine the involvement of thiyl radicals in such a process, the photochemical generation of benzenethiyl radical from thiol and disulfide precursors was studied in the presence of isopropyl nitrate. Analysis of reaction products and kinetics led to the conclusion that photolysis of the nitrate to NO2 dominated the observed photochemistry. Formation of sulfonothioate and NO as products, and trapping of NO2 by 4-chlorophenol, indicated a mechanism involving oxygen atom transfer from N to S via a thionitrate intermediate. The results of the study did not indicate a rapid reaction between thiyl radical and organic nitrate. Despite weak nitrate absorption of light >300 nm and a relatively high BDE for homolysis to give NO2, the photochemistry under thiyl-generating conditions was driven by nitrate photolysis to NO2. A novel nitrate, containing a phenyl disulfanyl group linked to nitrate groups, did not undergo photolysis to NO2 or generate sulfonothioate, but did yield NO. These observations suggest that reaction between thiyl radicals and nitrates leading to NO release is a viable pathway, but it is subservient to other competing reactions, such as photolysis, in the case of IPN, and reaction with thiolate, in the case of the novel nitrate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)709-719
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Journal of Chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Nitrate
  • Nitric oxide
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Photolysis
  • Thiyl radical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Organic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Photochemical reactions of thiols with organic nitrates - Oxygen atom transfer via a thionitrate'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this