Journal of pharmaceutical sciences

A prodrug approach to increasing the oral potency of a phenolic drug. 1. Synthesis, characterization, and stability of an O-(imidomethyl) derivative of 17 beta-estradiol.

PMID 7884673


An O-(saccharinylmethyl) prodrug was synthesized to improve the poor oral potency of the phenolic drug 17 beta-estradiol. This O-(imidomethyl) type of prodrug was designed to undergo chemical hydrolysis and to be a poor substrate for enzymatic hydrolysis. At 37 degrees C, it was found to exhibit half-lives of about 13 min in 50% methanol:pH 7.0 (v/v) phosphate buffer, about 3 min in rat plasma, about 15 min in human plasma, and about 50 min in 20% rat liver homogenate. Introduction of the enzyme poison tetraethyl pyrophosphate or the protein denaturant sodium fluoride into rat plasma had no significant effect on the half-life. Thus, the observed increased rate of hydrolysis in biological media is not due to enzymatic catalysis but to a nonspecific solventlike effect. The fact that the rate of hydrolysis in the methanol:buffer exhibited a first-order dependence on the hydroxide ion concentration and that the rate of hydrolysis increased with increasing methanol concentrations up to 70% supported an SN2 mechanism of hydrolysis for the prodrug. These results suggest that an O-(imidomethyl) type prodrug is insensitive to enzymatic catalysis of hydrolysis yet may hydrolyze quickly enough to release 17 beta-estradiol faster than 17 beta-estradiol is conjugated and excreted.

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