[3 + 2] Cycloadditions of Azomethine Imines

Grošelj, U.; Svete, J.


In spite of their late discovery in the middle of 20th century, the importance of azomethine imines and their [3+2] cycloaddition reactions has grown constantly throughout the decades. Today, [3+2] cycloadditions of azomethine imines have become indispensable in the preparation of pyrazole derivatives with all degrees of saturation. The structural diversity of azomethine imines is wide and comprises acyclic, C,N-cyclic, N,N-cyclic, and C,N,N-cyclic 1,3-dipoles. Although electron-deficient dipolarophiles are preferred, electron-rich dipolarophiles, such as enol ethers and enamines, are also commonly used in these reactions. Compared to cyclocondensation methods and [3+2] cycloadditions with diazoalkanes and nitrile imines, [3+2] cycloadditions with azomethine imines provide access to a greater diversity of pyrazole derivatives with all degrees of saturation. As with other 1,3-dipolar cycloadditions, a concerted and nearly synchronous mechanism has been proposed for most [3+2] cycloadditions of azomethine imines, although a stepwise mechanism may be viable in some cases. Several examples of asymmetric [3+2] cycloadditions of azomethine imines that afford non-racemic cycloadducts with high enantioselectivity have been reported. These asymmetric cycloadditions are performed with various types of transition metal catalysts and organocatalysts, and indicate their potential for the asymmetric synthesis of saturated pyrazole derivatives. Finally, many examples of copper-catalyzed and thermal, strain-promoted [3+2] cycloadditions of azomethine imines (in particular sydnones) clearly indicate wide applicability of these reactions in bioconjugation, fluorescent labelling, materials functionalization, and other applications outside the realm of pure organic synthesis.