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Journal of chromatography. B, Analytical technologies in the biomedical and life sciences

LC-MS/MS analysis of uncommon paracetamol metabolites derived through in vitro polymerization and nitration reactions in liquid nitrogen.


PMID 24365200

Abstract

Paracetamol (acetaminophen, APAP) is a commonly used analgesic drug. Known paracetamol metabolites include the glucuronide, sulfate and mercapturate. N-Acetyl-benzoquinonimine (NAPQI) is considered the toxic intermediate metabolite of paracetamol. In vitro and in vivo studies indicate that paracetamol is also metabolized to additional poorly characterized metabolites. For example, metabolomic studies in urine samples of APAP-treated mice revealed metabolites such as APAP-sulfate-APAP and APAP-S-S-APAP in addition to the classical phase II metabolites. Here, we report on the development and application of LC-MS and LC-MS/MS approaches to study reactions of unlabelled and (2)H-labelled APAP with unlabelled and (15)N-labelled nitrite in aqueous phosphate buffers (pH 7.4) upon their immersion into liquid nitrogen (-196°C). In mechanistic studies, these reactions were also studied in aqueous buffer prepared in (18)O-labelled water. LC-MS and LC-MS/MS analyses were performed on a reverse-phase material (C18) using gradient elution (2mM ammonium acetate/acetonitrile), in positive and negative electrospray mode. We identified a series of APAP metabolites including di-, tri- and tetra-APAP, mono- and di-nitro-APAP and nitric ester of di-APAP. Our study indicates that nitrite induces oxidation, i.e., polymerization and nitration of APAP, when buffered APAP/nitrite solutions are immersed into liquid nitrogen. These reactions are specific for nitrite with respect to nitrate and do not proceed via intermediate formation of NAPQI. Potassium ions and physiological saline but not thiols inhibit nitrite- and shock-freeze-induced reactions of paracetamol. The underlying mechanism likely involves in situ formation of NO2 radicals from nitrite secondary to profound pH reduction (down to pH 1) and disproportionation. Polymeric paracetamol species can be analyzed as pentafluorobenzyl derivatives by LC-MS but not by GC-MS.

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