Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry

Stable isotope labeling strategy for curcumin metabolite study in human liver microsomes by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

PMID 25592681


The identification of drug metabolites is very important in drug development. Nowadays, the most widely used methods are isotopes and mass spectrometry. However, the commercial isotopic labeled reagents are usually very expensive, and the rapid and convenient identification of metabolites is still difficult. In this paper, an (18)O isotope labeling strategy was developed and the isotopes were used as a tool to identify drug metabolites using mass spectrometry. Curcumin was selected as a model drug to evaluate the established method, and the (18)O labeled curcumin was successfully synthesized. The non-labeled and (18)O labeled curcumin were simultaneously metabolized in human liver microsomes (HLMs) and analyzed by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC-MS). The two groups of chromatograms obtained from metabolic reaction mixture with and without cofactors were compared and analyzed using Metabolynx software (Waters Corp., Milford, MA, USA). The mass spectra of the newly appearing chromatographic peaks in the experimental sample were further analyzed to find the metabolite candidates. Their chemical structures were confirmed by tandem mass spectrometry. Three metabolites, including two reduction products and a glucuronide conjugate, were successfully detected under their specific HLMs metabolic conditions, which were in accordance with the literature reported results. The results demonstrated that the developed isotope labeling method, together with post-acquisition data processing using Metabolynx software, could be used for fast identification of new drug metabolites.