Studies in polyphenol chemistry and bioactivity. 3.(1,2) stereocontrolled synthesis of epicatechin-4alpha,8-epicatechin, an unnatural isomer of the B-type procyanidins.
Oligomeric procyanidins containing 4alpha-linked epicatechin units are rare in nature and have hitherto not been accessible through stereoselective synthesis. We report herein the preparation of the prototypical dimer, epicatechin-4alpha,8-epicatechin (6), by reaction of the protected 4-ketones 11a,b with aryllithium reagents derived by halogen/metal exchange from the aryl bromides 26a,b. Removal of the 4-hydroxyl group from the resulting tertiary benzylic alcohols 27a,b was effected by tri-n-butyltin hydride and trifluoroacetic acid in a completely stereoselective manner, resulting in hydride delivery exclusively from the beta face. If benzyl was chosen for protection of the 3-hydroxyls, all protective groups could subsequently be removed in a single step by hydrogenolysis. tert-Butyldimethylsilyl groups, on the other hand, permitted selective deprotection of the 3-hydroxyls in preparation for their subsequent acylation with tri-O-benzylgalloyl chloride. Only monogalloylation at the "bottom" 3-hydroxyl took place when 28c was acylated under the previously reported conditions, reflecting the increased steric hindrance of the "top" 3-hydroxyl group in 28c compared with its 4beta,8-isomer 3. The preparation of compounds 14 and 17 containing phloroglucinol trimethyl ether in the 4alpha and 4beta linkages to epicatechin is also described. The 8-position of the bromine atom in 19, previously conjectured in analogy to the structurally characterized tetramethyl ether 20, was confirmed by transformation of both compounds into the common derivative 25.