The first novel stereoselective synthesis of naturally occurring A1 (1) and A2 proanthocyanidins (2) has been achieved. The key synthetic steps involved (a) the formation of a coupled product (13 or 14) between an open chain C-ring C-4 hydroxyethoxy analogue of either (+)-catechin or (−)-epicatechin with 5,7,3′,3′-tetra-O-benzyl-(+)-catechin/-(−)-epicatechin in the presence of bentonite clay K-10, (b) removal of benzyl protecting groups under mild catalytic hydrogenation conditions to form the desired A-type compound in situ as a mixture of diastereomers via ketal/oxonium ion/carbonium ion formation, and (c) separation of the diasteromers via silica gel column chromatography. The structures of A1 and A2 proanthocyanidins were unequivocally established by analytical comparison to the natural products. Following this methodology, an additional six diastereomers of proanthocyanidins A1 and A2 have been synthesized. A plausible mechanism for the formation of the A-type linkage in proanthocyanidins has been proposed.
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