Partial synthesis of (3R,6'R)-alpha-cryptoxanthin and (3R)-beta-cryptoxanthin from (3R,3'R,6'R)-lutein.J Nat Prod. 2007 Feb; 70(2):220-6.JN
(3R,3'R,6'R)-Lutein (1), (3R,3'R)-zeaxanthin (2), (3R,6'R)-alpha-cryptoxanthin (3), and (3R)-beta-cryptoxanthin (4) are among dietary hydroxycarotenoids that have been identified in human serum, milk, and ocular tissues. While 1 containing 6% of 2 is commercially available, industrial production of optically active 3 and 4 has not yet been accomplished. Several processes have been developed that transform 1 into 3, 4, and minor quantities of (3R,5'RS,6'R)-3',4'-didehydro-5',6'-dihydro-beta,beta-caroten-3-ol (5) (a regioisomer of 3). In one process, lutein (1) was cleanly deoxygenated to 3 in the presence of trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) and Me3N.BH3 in CH2Cl2 at ambient temperature in nearly 90% yield. Reaction of lutein (1) with a Lewis acid (AlCl3, ZnBr2, ZnI2) and a hydride donor (Me3N.BH3, Na[BH3(OCOCF3)], NaCNBH3) in solvents such as CH2Cl2, THF, and TBME produced similar results. In a two-step process, high-temperature acid-catalyzed dehydration of 1 (propanol/water/acid, 90 degrees C) gave a mixture of anhydroluteins 6, 7, and 8 in 86% yield. In the second step, these dehydration products underwent ionic hydrogenation with TFA/Me3N.BH3 in CH2Cl2 to afford a mixture of 3 and 4 in nearly 80% yield that contained only 1% of 5.