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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2007 Oct;18(10):1891-9. Epub 2007 Jul 29.

Response normalized liquid chromatography nanospray ionization mass spectrometry.

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  • 1Department of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, Schering-Plough Research Institute, Kenilworth, New Jersey 07033, USA.


The widely different LC-MS response observed for many structurally different compounds limits the use of LC-MS in full scan detection mode for quantitative determination of drugs and metabolites without using reference standard. The recently introduced nanospray ionization (NSI) technique shows comparable MS response for some compounds under non-LC-MS conditions. However, in the presence of numerous endogenous compounds commonly associated with biological samples such as urine, plasma, and bile, LC-MS is required to separate, detect, identify, and measure individual analytes. An LC-NSI-MS system was devised and the MS response obtained in this system for a variety of pharmaceutical drugs and their metabolites. The set-up involves two high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) systems, a chip-based NSI source and a quadrupole-time-of-flight (Q-TOF) mass spectrometer. Herein this is referred to as the response normalized-liquid chromatography NSI-MS (RNLC-NSI-MS) system. One HPLC unit performs the analytical separation, while the other unit adds solvent post-column with an exact reverse of the mobile phase composition such that the final composition entering the NSI source is isocratic throughout the entire HPLC run. The data obtained from four different structural classes of compounds [vicriviroc (VCV), desloratadine (DL), tolbutamide, and cocaine] and their metabolites indicate that by maintaining the solvent composition unchanged across the HPLC run, the influence of the solvent environment on the ionization efficiency is minimized. In comparison to responses obtained from radiochromatograms, responses from conventional LC-ESI-MS overestimated the VCV and DL responses, respectively, by 6- and 20-fold. Although VCV and DL responses obtained using LC-NSI-MS are within 2- to 6-fold from the respective radiochromatographic responses, the response normalization modification results in nearly uniform LC-NSI-MS response for all compounds evaluated.

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