Population, basicity and partition of short-lived conformers. Characterization of baclofen and pregabalin, the biaxial, doubly rotating drug molecules

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Populations, protonation constants and octanol-water partition coefficients were determined and assigned specifically to fast interconverting individual conformers, exemplified in baclofen and pregabalin, the GABA-related drug molecules of biaxial, double rotations. Rotamer statuses along both axes in water and octanol were elucidated from 1H NMR vicinal coupling constants. Conformer abundances were obtained by the appropriate combination of the rotamer populations in the two adjacent moieties in the molecule. The bulky aromatic group in baclofen versus the aliphatic side chain of pregabalin explains why baclofen exists mainly in trans-trans conformeric form, throughout the pH range, unlike pregabalin that has no any highly dominant form. Characteristically enough, for pregabalin, the lipophilicity of the conformers is primarily influenced by the conformation state. Conformers in gauche state are of higher lipophilicity. The conformers of the two compounds were ranked by their membrane-influx and –outflow propensities.Graphical abstract

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