Generalized structure of nitrogen mustards
Nitrogen mustards are alkylating agents that contain a bis-(2-chloroethyl)amine group which reacts, via nucleophilic substitution with the base pairs of DNA, leading to cross-links which induces apoptosis in affected cells. They are primarily used to treat cancers, although cyclophosphamide may also be used to treat autoimmune diseases like Wegener granulomatosis. Examples include:
- Mechlorethamine, which was the first clinically-utilized nitrogen mustard.