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Oxygen heterocyclic compounds are organic cyclic compounds containing one or more oxygen atoms in the ring. They may be aliphatic or aromatic in nature. Oxygen heterocycles constitute an important class of heterocyclic compounds largely due to their natural abundance and diverse biological functions. The heterocyclic ring may contain one or more oxygen atoms which influence the physio-chemical and biological properties of the compounds. They can be classified as monocyclic oxygen heterocycles and fused oxygen heterocycles. Some of the monocyclic compounds are oxirane, oxetane, dioxetane, furan, oxolane, dioxolane, dioxane, and trioxane. For fused heterocycles, the examples include benzofuran, dibenzofuran, benzopyran, benzodioxine, chromene, and xanthene.
Oxygen heterocycles have a potential use as solvents in many organic reactions. For example, tetrahydrofuran is an excellent solvent for organic and organometallic reactions. Another category is crown ether, which are important due to their ability to solvate positively charged ions that under normal conditions would not be soluble in an organic solvent. Oxygen heterocycles having alpha,beta-unsaturated bonds are used widely in organic transformations. Oxygen heterocyclic compounds form the basis of sugar chemistry and its derivatives, which have many potential uses in pharmaceuticals as drugs to treat certain types of diseases. Many natural and semi-synthetic oxygen heterocyclic compounds are known, and which find application as therapeutic compounds in the treatment of, for instance, anticancer, congestive heart failure, and dyslipidemia.