# Can anyone explain to me how to identify epimers and anomers in carbohydrates (sugars)? Also, state examples.

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Nov 15, 2017

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Epimers and anomers are both optical isomers that differ in the configuration at a single carbon atom, but there is a difference in their definitions.

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Epimers

Epimers are optical isomers that differ in the configuration of a single carbon atom

For example, D-galactose and D-mannose are epimers of D-glucose.

D-Galactose is an epimer of D-glucose because the two sugars differ only in the configuration at $\text{C-4}$.

D-Mannose is an epimer of D-glucose because the two sugars differ only in the configuration at $\text{C-2}$.

Anomers

When a molecule such as glucose converts to a cyclic form, it generates a new chiral centre at $\text{C-1}$.

(from www.chem.ucalgary.ca)

The carbon atom that generates the new chiral centre ($\text{C-1}$) is called the anomeric carbon.

Anomers are special cases — they are epimers that differ in configuration only at the anomeric carbon.

For example, α-D-glucose and β-D-glucose are anomers.

(from wikispaces.psu.edu)

The α form has the anomeric $\text{OH}$ group at $\text{C-1}$ on the opposite side of the ring from the $\text{CH"_2"OH}$ group at $\text{C-5}$.

The β form has the anomeric $\text{OH}$ group on the same side as the $\text{CH"_2"OH}$.

In D-fructose, the carbonyl group is at $\text{C-2}$.

(fromweb.pdx.edu)

Here, $\text{C-2}$ is the anomeric carbon.

(From pinterest.com)

α-D-Fructofuranose and β-D-fructofuranose are anomers.

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