Four 5,6-unsaturated steroids--3beta-chlorocholest-5-ene (1a), cholesterol (1b) and its acetate (1c) and benzoate (1d)-were subjected to constant current electrolysis (50 mA, 2 F mol(-1)) in an electrolytic cell divided by a ceramic membrane, using a platinum foil as the anode and a graphite stick as the cathode. When electrolysis was carried out in a solution of tetraethylammonium bromide in aprotic solvents (dichloromethane, acetonitrile or acetic anhydride), the addition of electrochemically-generated elemental bromine onto the double bond of the cholesterol derivatives gave their corresponding 5alpha,6beta-dibromosteroids--3beta-chloro-5alpha,6beta-dibromocholestane (2a), 5alpha,6beta-dibromocholestan-3beta-ol (2b), 5alpha,6beta-dibromocholestan-3beta-yl acetate (2c) and 5alpha,6beta-dibromocholestan-3beta-yl benzoate (2d)--as the sole products, and in good yields (58-91%). However, the electrolysis of steroids 1a-c in a solution of tetraethylammonium bromide with methanol as the solvent proceeded to give, in addition to dibromides 2a-c, the corresponding diastereomeric pairs of 5-bromo-6-methoxysteroids: 5alpha-bromo-3beta-chloro-6beta-methoxycholestane (3a) and 5beta-bromo-3beta-chloro-6alpha-methoxycholestane (4a), 5alpha-bromo-6beta-methoxycholestan-3beta-ol (3b) and 5beta-bromo-6alpha-methoxycholestan-3beta-ol (4b) and 5alpha-bromo-6beta-methoxycholestan-3beta-yl acetate (3c) and 5alpha-bromo-6beta-methoxycholestan-3beta-yl acetate (4c). The benzoate 1d was not soluble enough in methanol, even with heating. The products were characterized by physical and spectral data (IR, 1H NMR and 13C NMR). Single crystal X-ray structure determinations of compounds 2a and 3a are also reported.
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