A convenient biomimetic synthesis of optically active putative neurotoxic metabolites of MDMA ("ecstasy") from R-(-)- and S-(+)-N-methyl-α-methyldopamine precursors.

Abstract

(±)-3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, also known as "ecstasy") is a psychoactive drug with selective neurotoxic potential toward brain serotonin (5-HT) neurons. One hypothesis holds that MDMA neurotoxicity may at least partially be a consequence of its metabolism. In most species (including primates), O-demethylenated MDMA metabolites such as N-methyl-α-methyldopamine (HHMA) have been postulated to serve as precursors for toxic thioether conjugates. As yet, chirality of MDMA was not considered in previously reported in vivo studies because HHMA was used as the racemate. Since the stereochemistry of this chiral drug needs to be considered, the total synthesis of enantiomerically pure precursors, R-(-)-HHMA and S-(+)-HHMA, was envisioned with the ultimate goal to prepare substantial amounts of optically active thioether conjugates. Recently, we reported the first total synthesis of the R-enantiomer. In this paper, a novel synthesis of the S-enantiomer is described, in 45% overall yield (six steps) and 99% ee, using commercially available l-Boc-alanine (99% ee) as the chiral source. Having at our disposal suitable amounts of R-(-)-HHMA and S-(+)-HHMA precursors, a straightforward one-pot electrochemical procedure has been further developed for the synthesis of several catechol-thioether conjugates in acceptable yields (40-53%) and high degree of purity (99%), with complete diastereoselectivity. The availability of these newly synthesized optically active catechol-thioether conjugates is crucial for ongoing future in vivo studies about their role in MDMA neurotoxicity.

DOI: 10.1039/c2ob25245g

Cite this paper

@article{Martinez2012ACB, title={A convenient biomimetic synthesis of optically active putative neurotoxic metabolites of MDMA ("ecstasy") from R-(-)- and S-(+)-N-methyl-α-methyldopamine precursors.}, author={Claire-Marie Martinez and Anne Neud{\"{o}rffer and Martine Largeron}, journal={Organic & biomolecular chemistry}, year={2012}, volume={10 18}, pages={3739-48} }