Chemistry of Spontaneous Alkylation of Methimazole with 1,2-Dichloroethane

Molecules. 2021 Nov 21;26(22):7032. doi: 10.3390/molecules26227032.


Spontaneous S-alkylation of methimazole (1) with 1,2-dichloroethane (DCE) into 1,2-bis[(1-methyl-1H-imidazole-2-yl)thio]ethane (2), that we have described recently, opened the question about its formation pathway(s). Results of the synthetic, NMR spectroscopic, crystallographic and computational studies suggest that, under given conditions, 2 is obtained by direct attack of 1 on the chloroethyl derivative 2-[(chloroethyl)thio]-1-methyl-1H-imidazole (3), rather than through the isolated stable thiiranium ion isomer, i.e., 7-methyl-2H, 3H, 7H-imidazo[2,1-b]thiazol-4-ium chloride (4a, orthorhombic, space group Pnma), or in analogy with similar reactions, through postulated, but unproven intermediate thiiranium ion 5. Furthermore, in the reaction with 1, 4a prefers isomerization to the N-chloroethyl derivative, 1-chloroethyl-2,3-dihydro-3-methyl-1H-imidazole-2-thione (7), rather than alkylation to 2, while 7 further reacts with 1 to form 3-methyl-1-[(1-methyl-imidazole-2-yl)thioethyl]-1H-imidazole-2-thione (8, monoclinic, space group P 21/c). Additionally, during the isomerization of 3, the postulated intermediate thiiranium ion 5 was not detected by chromatographic and spectroscopic methods, nor by trapping with AgBF4. However, trapping resulted in the formation of the silver complex of compound 3, i.e., bis-{2-[(chloroethyl)thio]-1-methyl-1H-imidazole}-silver(I)tetrafluoroborate (6, monoclinic, space group P 21/c), which cyclized upon heating at 80 °C to 7-methyl-2H, 3H, 7H-imidazo[2,1-b]thiazol-4-ium tetrafluoroborate (4b, monoclinic, space group P 21/c). Finally, we observed thermal isomerization of both 2 and 2,3-dihydro-3-methyl-1-[(1-methyl-1H-imidazole-2-yl)thioethyl]-1H-imidazole-2-thione (8), into 1,2-bis(2,3-dihydro-3-methyl-1H-imidazole-2-thione-1-yl)ethane (9), which confirmed their structures.

Keywords: 1,2-Bis[(1-methyl-1H-imidazole-2-yl)thio]ethane; 2,3-dihydro-3-methyl-1-[(1-methyl-1H-imidazole-2-yl)thioethyl]-1H-imidazole-2-thione; 7-methyl-2H,3H,7H-imidazo[2,1-b]thiazol-4-ium salts; bis-{2-[(chloroethyl)thio]-1-methyl-1H-imidazole}-silver(I)tetrafluoroborate; computational methods; isomerization kinetics; methimazole; single-crystal X-ray study; thiiranium ion; time-dependent NMR spectroscopy.

MeSH terms

  • Alkylation
  • Crystallography, X-Ray / methods
  • Ethylene Dichlorides / chemistry*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods
  • Methimazole / chemistry*
  • Silver / chemistry


  • Ethylene Dichlorides
  • Silver
  • ethylene dichloride
  • Methimazole