Preparative microfluidic electrosynthesis of drug metabolites

ACS Med Chem Lett. 2013 Oct 1;4(11):1119-23. doi: 10.1021/ml400316p. eCollection 2013 Nov 14.


In vivo, a drug molecule undergoes its first chemical transformation within the liver via CYP450-catalyzed oxidation. The chemical outcome of the first pass hepatic oxidation is key information to any drug development process. Electrochemistry can be used to simulate CYP450 oxidation, yet it is often confined to the analytical scale, hampering product isolation and full characterization. In an effort to replicate hepatic oxidations, while retaining high throughput at the preparative scale, microfluidic technology and electrochemistry are combined in this study by using a microfluidic electrochemical cell. Several commercial drugs were subjected to continuous-flow electrolysis. They were chosen for their various chemical reactivity: their metabolites in vivo are generated via aromatic hydroxylation, alkyl oxidation, glutathione conjugation, or sulfoxidation. It is demonstrated that such metabolites can be synthesized by flow electrolysis at the 10 to 100 mg scale, and the purified products are fully characterized.

Keywords: Drug metabolites; continuous-flow oxidation; electrochemistry; microfluidic synthesis.