Vitamin E chemistry. Nitration of non-alpha-tocopherols: products and mechanistic considerations

J Org Chem. 2007 Aug 17;72(17):6504-12. doi: 10.1021/jo0706832. Epub 2007 Jul 18.


In contrast to the alpha-form permethylated at the aromatic ring, non-alpha-tocopherols possess free aromatic ring positions which enable them to act as potent scavengers of electrophiles in vivo and in vitro. In preparation of enzymatic studies involving peroxynitrite and other nitrating systems, the behavior of non-alpha-tocopherols under nitration conditions was studied. The nitration products of beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol were identified, comprehensively analytically characterized, and their structure was supported by X-ray crystal structure analysis on truncated model compounds. Even under more drastic nitration conditions, no erosion of the stereochemistry at 2-C occurred. The nitrosation of gamma-tocopherol and delta-tocopherol was re-examined, showing the slow oxidation of the initial nitroso products to the corresponding nitro derivatives by air to be superimposed by a fast equilibrium with the tautomeric ortho-quinone monoxime, which only in the case of gamma-tocopherol released hydroxyl amine at elevated temperatures to afford the stable ortho-quinone. Mononitration of delta-tocopherol selectively proceeded at position 5. This selectivity can be explained by the theory of strain-induced bond localization (SIBL) to the quinoid nitration intermediates. Bisnitration was only insignificantly disfavored by the first nitro group, so that under normal nitration conditions offering an excess of nitrating species only the bisnitration product was found.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nitrates / chemistry*
  • Vitamin E / chemistry*


  • Nitrates
  • Vitamin E