Background: Schiff bases have been greatly studied in biological field due to their
wide range of pharmacological activities, such as antitubercular and antitumour. In the search of
novel antitubercular agents, several compounds containing pharmacophoric group of ethambutol
have been synthesized and evaluated against mycobacteria species causing tuberculosis. In this
work, we investigate whether ethylenediamine, Schiff base as well as nitro group together could
contribute to the formation of novel molecules with dual biological activities: antitubercular and
Methods: A series of Schiff bases (3-12) derived from p-nitrophenylethylenediamine (1) as well as
N1,N2-bis(4-nitrophenyl)ethane-1,2-diamine (2) were synthetized and assayed for their action
against Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv strain and the human tumour cell lines SF-295
(glioblastoma multiforme), HCT-116 (colon adenocarcinoma) and OVCAR-8 (ovarian cancer).
Results: Among the compounds that showed antimycobacterial effects, 4 was more active than
ethambutol, the antitubercular drug used as positive control. Also, compounds 1, 8, 10 and 12
were able to reduce strongly the viability of the tumour cell lines at 5 μgmL-1.
Conclusion: According to studies, some modifications on p-nitrophenylethylenediamine (1) were
an effective strategy to obtain compounds with antiproliferactive activities. Also, Schiff base 4
proved to be the lead antitubercular compound.