Esters of levonorgestrel and etonogestrel intended as single, subcutaneous-injection, long-lasting contraceptives

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Graphical abstractHighlightsCarbodiimide-mediated esterification of levonogestrel and etonogestrel.First examples of sulfonamide-derived norgestrel analogs.Two compounds identified as effective anti-ovulation agents in the murine model.An effort with the goal of discovering single-dose, long-lasting (>6 months) injectable contraceptives began using levonorgestrel (LNG)-17-β esters linked to a sulfonamide function purposed as human carbonic anhydrase II (hCA 2) ligands. One single analog from this first series showed noticeably superior anti-ovulatory activity in murine models, and a subsequent structure-activity relationship (SAR, the relationship between a compound’s molecular structure and its biological activity) study based on this compound identified a LNG-phenoxyacetic acid ester analog exhibiting longer anti-ovulatory properties using the murine model at 2 and 4 mg dose than medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA). The same ester function linked to etonogestrel (ENG) furnished a compound which inhibited ovulation at 2 mg for 60 days, the longest duration of all compounds tested at these doses. By comparison, MPA at the same dose inhibited ovulation for 32 days.

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