One-Step Regio- and Stereoselective Electrochemical Synthesis of Orexin Receptor Antagonist Oxidative Metabolites

Huifang Yao, Edward C. Sherer, Mei Lu, James Small, Gary E. Martin, Yu Hong Lam, Qinghao Chen, Roy Helmy, Yong Liu, Hao Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Synthesis of drug metabolites, which often have complex structures, is an integral step in the evaluation of drug candidate metabolism, pharmacokinetic (PK) properties, and safety profiles. Frequently, such synthetic endeavors entail arduous, multiple-step de novo synthetic routes. Herein, we present the one-step Shono-type electrochemical synthesis of milligrams of chiral α-hydroxyl amide metabolites of two orexin receptor antagonists, MK-8133 and MK-6096, as revealed by a small-scale (pico- to nano-mole level) reaction screening using a lab-built online electrochemistry (EC)/mass spectrometry (MS) (EC/MS) platform. The electrochemical oxidation of MK-8133 and MK-6096 was conducted in aqueous media and found to produce the corresponding α-piperidinols with exclusive regio- and stereoselectivity, as confirmed by high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) characterization of products. Based on density functional theory (DFT) calculations, the exceptional regio- and stereoselectivity for this electrochemical oxidation are governed by more favorable energetics of the transition state, leading to the preferred secondary carbon radical α to the amide group and subsequent steric hindrance associated with the U-shaped conformation of the cation derived from the secondary α-carbon radical, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15011-15021
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Organic Chemistry
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 18 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Organic Chemistry


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