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Biologically-active sulfated steroids: synthesis and state-of-art
1, 2 , 1, 2 , 1 , 1, 2 , 1, 2 , * 1, 2
1  Laboratory of Organic and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Department of Chemical Sciences, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto, Rua Jorge Viterbo Ferreira, 228, 4050-313 Porto, Portugal
2  Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR), Terminal de Cruzeiros do Porto de Leixões, Matosinhos, Portugal

Published: 31 October 2018 by MDPI in 4th International Electronic Conference on Medicinal Chemistry session ECMC-4

Several biological activities from nearly 150 marine-derived sulfated steroids have been reported with both pharmacological (antimicrobial, antitumor, cardiovascular and/ or anti-inflammatory activities) and environmental (antifouling activity) applications [1]. Sulfation is used in Nature to avoid toxicity and therefore marine-inspired sulfated steroids could be an interesting strategy for drug discovery. The sulfated aminosterol squalamine, isolated from the internal organs of the dogfish shark, is in phase III of clinical trials as anti-angiogenic drug [2], which evidences the potential of sulfated steroids.

Sulfation of small molecules using sulfur trioxide-amine complexes entails several advantages, such as persulfation, low degradation, and feasibility in the work-up [3]. Moreover, these complexes appear to be suitable for sulfation of alcohol groups present in steroids [4]. In this direction, sulfation of four sterols was achieved using triethylamine-sulfur trioxide adduct in dimethylacetamide under heating, with yields ranging from 3% to 93%. Purification involved insolubilization with diethyl ether followed by several methods to obtain the sulfated derivatives free of inorganic impurities, including dialysis and/ or chromatographic processes. Structure elucidation of these new compounds was established by infrared (IR), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS). Biological activities will be further studied.


This work was supported through national funds provided by FCT/MCTES - Foundation for Science and Technology from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (PIDDAC) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the COMPETE Programa Operacional Factores de Competitividade (POFC) programme, under the projects PTDC/MAR-BIO/4694/2014 (reference POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016790; Project 3599–PPCDT), PTDC/AAGTEC/0739/2014 (reference POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016793; Project 9471-RIDTI) and POCI-01-0145-FEDER-028736 in the framework of the programme PT2020. Carvalhal F also acknowledges FCT for the grant PTDC/AAG- TEC/0739/2014-018.


[1] Carvalhal, F., M. Correia-da-Silva, M.E. Sousa, M. Pinto, and A. Kijjoa, Journal of Molecular Endocrinology, 2018, 61(2) 211-231.

[2] NCT02727881 (, October 15, 2018)

[3] Correia-da-Silva, M., E. Sousa, and M.M. Pinto, Medicinal Research Reviews, 2014, 34(2) 223-79.

[4] Al-Horani, R.A., and U.R. Desai, Chemical Sulfation of Small Molecules - Advances and Challenges.Tetrahedron, 2010, 66(16), 2907-2918

Keywords: Marine; Steroids; Biological Activities; Synthesis
Comments on this paper
Carla Fernandes
Very nice presentation and promising research! Congratulations!