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Anal Bioanal Chem. 2012 Apr;403(2):345-54. doi: 10.1007/s00216-011-5665-0. Epub 2012 Jan 9.

Simulation of the oxidative metabolism of diclofenac by electrochemistry/(liquid chromatography/)mass spectrometry.

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Institut für Anorganische und Analytische Chemie, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Münster, Germany.


Diclofenac is a frequently prescribed drug for rheumatic diseases and muscle pain. In rare cases, it may be associated with a severe hepatotoxicity. In literature, it is discussed whether this toxicity is related to the oxidative phase I metabolism, resulting in electrophilic quinone imines, which can subsequently react with nucleophiles present in the liver in form of glutathione or proteins. In this work, electrochemistry coupled to mass spectrometry is used as a tool for the simulation of the oxidative pathway of diclofenac. Using this purely instrumental approach, diclofenac was oxidized in a thin layer cell equipped with a boron doped diamond working electrode. Sum formulae of generated oxidation products were calculated based on accurate mass measurements with deviations below 2 ppm. Quinone imines from diclofenac were detected using this approach. It could be shown for the first time that these quinone imines do not react with glutathione exclusively but also with larger molecules such as the model protein β-lactoglobulin A. A tryptic digest of the generated drug-protein adduct confirms that the protein is modified at the only free thiol-containing peptide. This simple and purely instrumental set-up offers the possibility of generating reactive metabolites of diclofenac and to assess their reactivity rapidly and easily.

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