Estimating the hydrophobicity extent of molecular fragments using reversed-phase liquid chromatography.

Journal of separation science(2023)

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A fast HPLC method was developed to study the hydrophobicity extent of pharmaceutically relevant molecular fragments. By this strategy, the reduced amount of sample available for physico-chemical evaluations in early-phase drug discovery programs does not represent a limiting factor. The sixteen acid fragments investigated were previously synthesized also determining potentiometrically their experimental log D values. For four fragments it was not possible to determine such property since their values were outside of the instrumental working range (2 < pK  < 12). An RP-HPLC method was therefore optimized. For each scrutinized method, some derived chromatographic indices were calculated, and Pearson's correlation coefficient (r) allowed to select the so-called "φ index" as the best correlating with the log D. The was fixed at 3.5 and a modification of some variables [organic modifier (methanol vs. ACN), stationary phase (octyl vs. octadecyl), presence/absence of the additives n-octanol, n-butylamine, and n-octylamine], allowed to select the best correlation conditions, producing a r = 0.94 (p < 0.001). Importantly, the φ index enabled the estimation of log D values for four fragments which were unattainable by potentiometric titration. Moreover, a series of molecular descriptors were calculated to identify the chemical characteristics of the fragments explaining the obtained φ . The number of hydrogen bond donors and the index of cohesive interaction correlated with the experimental data.
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