Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry

A new approach for generic screening and quantitation of potential genotoxic alkylation compounds by pre-column derivatization and LC-MS/MS analysis.

PMID 21445660


A generic LC-MS/MS method was developed for the analysis of potentially genotoxic alkyl halides. A broad selection of alkyl halides were derivatized using 4-dimethylaminopyridine in acetonitrile. The reaction conditions for derivatization, i.e., solvent, reaction time, temperature and concentration of alkyl halide, active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), and reagent, were optimized for sensitivity and robustness. The interference of the matrix and the API and the presence of water on the derivatization reaction were investigated for a model drug product (paracetamol/caffeine tablets). Hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography was used to allow a quantitative determination of the derivatives by tandem mass spectrometry. The derivatization reaction was shown to be selective for alkyl halides, although some reactivity was also observed for an aromatic sulfonate, which is also genotoxic. Even though differences in reaction efficiencies have been observed, the enhanced sensitivity obtained by the derivatization allows the majority of the alkyl halides to be detected by MS/MS at relevant levels for genotoxic impurity evaluation, i.e., 10 mg kg(-1). Another key advantage is that for the majority of derivatives, reagent-related fragments are produced, which allows low-level screening for alkyl halides. Highly specific MS detection can be performed using neutral loss and precursor ion scan experiments. The applicability of a generic screening method will make the genotox evaluation less dependent on the quality of assessments based on predictions only, and it will provide essential information during the development of new chemical entities. In addition to screening, target analysis in the low milligrams per kilogram range can be performed. A similar response of the derivatized compounds was obtained in the range of 1-100 mg kg(-1) with a reproducibility better than 10%, which is sufficient for the determination of alkyl halides in APIs and drug products.