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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2005 Apr;16(4):446-55.

The relative influences of acidity and polarity on responsiveness of small organic molecules to analysis with negative ion electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS).

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  • 1Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), Copenhagen, Denmark.


The purpose of the work presented here was to evaluate the influence of solution composition and analyte characteristics on responsiveness to analysis with negative ion electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. The responses of a series of structurally diverse acidic molecules were compared in various solvents. Response was generally observed to be higher in methanol than acetonitrile and response for all analytes was poorer when water was mixed with the organic solvent. A positive correlation between negative ion ESI-MS response and log P was observed when either acetonitrile or methanol was used as the electrospray solvent. This result was expected because analytes with significant nonpolar character should be particularly responsive to ESI-MS analysis due to their higher affinity for electrospray droplet surfaces. It was also predicted that highly acidic analytes would be most responsive to analysis with negative ion ESI-MS due to their tendency to form negative ions. However, for the analytes studied here, acidity was found not to have a consistent influence on ESI-MS response. Many of the highly acidic molecules were quite polar and, consequently, were poorly responsive. Furthermore, the deprotonated molecular ion was detected for a number of molecules with very high pKa values, which would not be expected to form negative ions in the bulk solution. Ultimately, these results indicate that acidity is not a conclusive parameter for prediction of the relative magnitudes of negative ion ESI-MS response among a diverse series of analytes. Analyte polarity does; however, appear to be useful for this purpose.

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