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J Med Chem. 1987 Nov;30(11):2147-50.

Antimalarial activity of new water-soluble dihydroartemisinin derivatives.

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Division of Experimental Therapeutics, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, D.C. 20307-5100.


The usefulness of sodium artesunate (3), a water-soluble derivative of artemisinin (1), is impaired by its poor stability in aqueous solution. To overcome the ease of hydrolysis of the ester group in 3, a new series of derivatives of dihydroartemisinin (2) was prepared in which the solubilizing moiety, which contains a carboxylate group, is joined to dihydroartemisinin by an ether rather than an ester linkage. The new derivatives were prepared in good yield by treatment of dihydroartemisinin with an appropriate alcohol under boron trifluoride etherate catalysis at room temperature. All major condensation products are the beta isomer. Hydrolysis of the esters with 2.5% KOH/MeOH gave the corresponding potassium salts, which were converted to free acids (8b-d) by acidification. The derivatives were tested in vitro against two clones of human malaria, Plasmodium falciparum D-6 (Sierra Leone clone) and W-2 (Indochina clone). No cross-resistance to the antimalarial agents mefloquine, chloroquine, pyrimethamine, sulfadoxine, and quinine was observed. In general, the new compounds are more effective against the W-2 than the D-6 strain. Esters (5a-d) possess activity comparable to that of the parent compounds 1 and 2; however, conversion of the esters to their corresponding carboxylates (7a-d) or acids (8b-d), with the exception of artelinic acid (8d), drastically decreases the antimalarial activities in both cell lines. Artelinic acid, which is both soluble and stable in 2.5% K2CO3 solution, possesses superior in vivo activity against Plasmodium berghei than artemisinin or artesunic acid.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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