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    Proanthocyanidins (PACs) are natural plant-derived polymers consisting of flavan-3-ol monomers. Quebracho (Schinopsis lorentzii and balansae) heartwood and mimosa (Acacia mearnsii) bark extracts are the major industrial sources of PACs. These commercial extracts are often sulfited to reduce their viscosity and increase their solubility in water. The chemical process of sulfitation is still poorly understood regarding stereochemical influences during the reaction and during the cleavage of the interflavanyl bond of oligomers. To gain a better understanding of sulfitation, two diastereomeric flavan-3-ol monomers were sulfited under industrial conditions, and procyanidin B-3 (catechin-4α→8-catechin) were sulfited to investigate interflavanyl bond cleavage with sulfitation at C-4. Treatment of diastereomeric flavan-3-ols 2R,3S-catechin and 2R,3R-epicatechin with NaHSO3 at 100 °C in aqueous medium afforded the enantiomeric (1R,2S)- and (1S,2R)-1-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-2-hydroxy-3-(2,4,6-trihydroxyphenyl)propane-1-sulfonic acid, respectively. Utilizing computational NMR PD4 calculations it was determined that the direction of stereoselective nucleophilic attack is controlled by the C-3 configuration of the flavan-3-ols catechin and epicatechin. Sulfitation of the catechin-4α→8-catechin dimer 7 (procyanidin B-3) under the same conditions led to the cleavage of the interflavanyl bond yielding the C-4 sulfonic acid substituted catechin momomer. From the heterocyclic ring coupling constants it was determined that nucleophilic attack occurs from the β-face of the dimer leading to the 2,3-trans-3,4-cis isomer as product.


    Anwar E M Noreljaleel, Anke Wilhelm, Susan L Bonnet. Analysis of Commercial Proanthocyanidins. Part 6: Sulfitation of Flavan-3-Ols Catechin and Epicatechin, and Procyanidin B-3. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 2020 Oct 28;25(21)

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    PMID: 33126408

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