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Chemical structure of piracetam - the archetypal racetam.

Racetams are a class of compounds that share a pyrrolidone nucleus.[1] Many, including piracetam, are considered to be nootropics. Some such as oxiracetam and phenylpiracetam are also stimulants. Others such as levetiracetam and seletracetam are anticonvulsants.

Generally, racetams upregulate and preserve adequate levels of acetylcholine as a primary mechanism, suggesting they can aid recovery from deliriant intoxication and other typically cognitively impaired states.[2]



Some drugs do not possess the pyrrolidone nucleus that defines a "racetam", but remains related to this family by virtue of structual similarity.

  • Omberacetam (Noopept) has a proline ring in place of the pyrrolidone ring. Its WHO-INN name ends with "racetam".
  • Unifiram and Sunifiram were identified by a series of modification on piracetam, starting by adding a second ring. Sunifiram shares no rings with piracetam and ended up closer in structure to ampakines.[3]

External links


  1. Löscher, W., Richter, A. (17 March 2000). "Piracetam and levetiracetam, two pyrrolidone derivatives, exert antidystonic activity in a hamster model of paroxysmal dystonia". European Journal of Pharmacology. 391 (3): 251–254. doi:10.1016/s0014-2999(00)00105-9. ISSN 0014-2999. 
  2. Malykh, A. G., Sadaie, M. R. (12 February 2010). "Piracetam and piracetam-like drugs: from basic science to novel clinical applications to CNS disorders". Drugs. 70 (3): 287–312. doi:10.2165/11319230-000000000-00000. ISSN 1179-1950. 
  3. See https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/14756366.2015.1021252, figure 1.