Structural properties, order-disorder phenomena and phase stability of orotic acid crystal forms

Doris Braun, Karol Nartowski, Yaroslav Khimyak, Kenneth Morris, Stephen Byrn, Ulrich Griesser

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Orotic acid (OTA) is reported to exist in the anhydrous (AH), monohydrate (Hy1) and dimethylsulfoxide monosolvate (SDMSO) forms. In this study we investigate the (de)hydration/desolvation behavior, aiming at an understanding of the elusive structural features of anhydrous OTA by a combination of experimental and computational techniques, namely, thermal analytical methods, gravimetric moisture (de)sorption studies, water activity measurements, X-ray powder diffraction, spectroscopy (vibrational, solid-state NMR), crystal energy landscape and chemical shift calculations. The Hy1 is a highly stable hydrate, which dissociates above 135°C and loses only a small part of the water when stored over desiccants (25°C) for more than one year. In Hy1, orotic acid and water molecules are linked by strong hydrogen bonds in nearly perfectly planar arranged stacked layers. The layers are spaced by 3.1 Å and not linked via hydrogen-bonds. Upon dehydration the X-ray powder diffraction and solid-state NMR peaks become broader indicating some disorder in the anhydrous form. The Hy1 stacking reflection (122) is maintained, suggesting that the OTA molecules are still arranged in stacked layers in the dehydration product. Desolvation of SDMSO, a non-layer structure, results in the same AH phase as observed upon dehydrating Hy1. Depending on the desolvation conditions different levels of order-disorder of layers present in anhydrous OTA are observed, which is also suggested by the computed low energy crystal structures. These structures provide models for stacking faults as intergrowth of different layers is possible. The variability in anhydrate crystals is of practical concern as it affects the moisture dependent stability of AH with respect to hydration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1012-1029
Number of pages18
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number3
Early online date8 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2016


  • Crystal structure prediction,
  • thermal analysis
  • gravimetric moisture sorption/desorption
  • water activity
  • powder X-ray diffraction
  • vibrational spectroscopy
  • solid state NMR
  • dehydration

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