• CD26;
  • dipeptidyl peptidase IV;
  • hydroxy-containing drugs;
  • peptides;
  • prodrugs


We previously described a novel prodrug approach in which a di- or tetrapeptide moiety is linked to a wide variety of amine-containing drugs through an amide bond, which is specifically cleaved by dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPPIV/CD26) activity. Herein we report the application of this prodrug approach to a variety of hydroxy-containing drugs (primary, secondary, tertiary, or aromatic hydroxy groups). We designed and studied tripartite prodrugs containing a dipeptide moiety (cleavable by DPPIV/CD26) and a valine as a hetero-bifunctional connector to link the dipeptide to the hydroxy group of the drug through a metabolically labile ester bond. The hydroxy-containing prodrugs showed various susceptibilities to hydrolysis by DPPIV/CD26 and serum, depending on the nature of the compound. Prodrugs of compounds containing a primary hydroxy group (as in didanosine) or a hydroxy moiety on an aromatic entity (as in acetaminophen) were most efficiently converted. In contrast, a tertiary hydroxy group was much less susceptible to conversion into its parent drug by DPPIV/CD26 or serum. A number of the prodrugs showed remarkable increases in water solubility relative to their parent drugs.