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Reduction of nitriles

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Diisopropylaminoborane [BH2N(iPr)2] in the presence of a catalytic amount of lithium borohydride (LiBH4) reduces a large variety of aliphatic and aromatic nitriles in excellent yields.BH2N(iPr)2 can also reduce nitriles in the presence of unconjugated alkenes and alkynes. Unfortunately, selective reduction of a nitrile in the presence of an aldehyde is not possible.
D. Haddenham, L. Pasumansky, J. DeSoto, S. Eagon, B. Singaram, J. Org. Chem., 2009, 74, 1964-1970.


Silylative reduction of nitriles under transition metal-free conditions converts alkyl and (hetero)aryl nitriles efficiently to primary amines under mild conditions. The use of sterically bulky silanes enabled a partial reduction leading to N-silylimines.
N. Gandhamsetty, J. Jeong, Y. Park, S. Park, S. Chang, J. Org. Chem., 2015, 80, 7281-7287.


A simple [Ru(p-cymene)Cl2]2 complex is used as a catalyst precursor in a catalyzed hydroboration of nitriles and imines using pinacolborane with unprecedented catalytic efficiency.
A. Kaithal, B. Chatterjee, C. Gunanathan, J. Org. Chem., 2016, 81, 11153-11161.


Activation of SmI2 (Kagan’s reagent) with Lewis bases enables a mild general reduction of nitriles to primary amines under single electron transfer conditions. Activated samarium diiodide features excellent functional group tolerance and is therefore an attractive alternative to pyrophoric alkali metal hydrides. Notably, an electron transfer from Sm(II) to bench stable nitrile precursors generates imidoyl-type radicals.
M. Szostak, B. Sautier, M. Spain, D. J. Procter, Org. Lett., 2014, 16, 1092-1095.


Odorless Dod-S-Me and MMS are developed as efficient borane carriers. The yields of hydroborations and reductions with the borane complex of Dod-S-Me are very high. The recovery of Dod-S-Me after the reaction is quantitative.
P. K. Patra, K. Nishide, K. Fuji, M. Node, Synthesis, 2004, 1003-1006.


The scope of nickel boride mediated reduction of nitriles has been extended further to allow the preparation of Boc protected amines via a mild catalytic process.
S. Caddick, D. B. Judd, A. K. de K. Lewis, M. T. Reich, M. R. V. Williams, Tetrahedron, 2003, 59, 5417-5423.