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Analytical chemistry

Characterization of the degradation products of a color-changed monoclonal antibody: tryptophan-derived chromophores.


PMID 24937252

Abstract

We describe the characterization of degradation products responsible for color change in near UV-visible light-irradiated and heat-stressed monoclonal antibody (mAb) drug product in liquid formulation. The treated samples were characterized using reversed-phase HPLC and size-exclusion HPLC with absorption spectroscopy. Both methods showed color change was due to chromophores formed on the mAb but not associated with the formulation excipients in both light-irradiated and heat-stressed mAb samples. These chromophores were further located by a new peptide mapping methodology with a combination of mass spectrometry and absorption spectroscopy. Mass spectrometry identified the major tryptophan oxidation products as kynurenine (Kyn), N-formylkynurenine (NFK), and hydroxytryptophan (OH-Trp). The absorption spectra showed that each of the tryptophan oxidation products exhibited a distinct absorption band above 280 nm shifted to the longer wavelengths in the order of OH-Trp < NFK < Kyn. The Kyn-containing peptide was detected by absorption at 420 nm. No new absorption bands were observed for either methionine or histidine oxidation products. This confirmed that tryptophan oxidation products, but not methionine and histidine oxidation products, were responsible for the color change. It is worth noting that a new oxidation product with the loss of hydrogen (2 Da mass decrease) for Trp-107 of the heavy chain was identified in the heat-stressed mAb sample. This oxidized tryptophan residue exhibited a distinct absorption band at the maximum absorbance wavelength 335 nm, which is responsible for the color change to yellow. This study showed that the new peptide mapping methodology with a combination of mass spectrometry and absorption spectroscopy is useful to identify tryptophan oxidation products as chromophores responsible for color change in stressed mAb drug product.