Journal of pharmaceutical and biomedical analysis

Liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS) determination of stimulants, anorectic drugs and phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors (PDE5I) in food supplements.

PMID 24996684


The paper describes a liquid chromatography/high resolution mass spectrometry LC/HRMS method for the simultaneous identification and quantification of stimulants (ephedrines, caffeine, anorectic drugs such as phentermine, phendimetrazine, phenmetrazine, fenfluramine, benfluorex, mephentermine, fencanfamine, sibutramine) and PDE5I (sildenafil, vardenafil and tadalafil) in food supplements using a benchtop Orbitrap mass spectrometer. The mass detector, with a nominal resolving power of 100,000 (FWHM at m/z 200), operated in full scan mode in ESI positive ionization mode. Analytes were identified by retention times, accurate masses and correspondence of experimental and calculated isotopic patterns. The limits of detection (LOD) obtained varied from 1 to 25 ng g(-1) and limits of quantification (LOQ) were 50 ng g(-1) for all compounds. The method was linear for all the analytes in the ranges from 50 to 2000 ng g(-1), giving correlation coefficients>0.99. Accuracy (intended as %E) and repeatability (% CV) were always lower than 15%. The method was applied to the analysis of 36 dietary supplements, revealing the presence of ephedrine and/or pseudoephedrine in four of them, caffeine in eight of them and sildenafil in four of them. In one case, ephedrine was not reported on the label of the dietary supplement, as well as for caffeine in other two cases. A further confirmation of the analytes identity in positive samples was obtained through in-source fragmentation and comparison of the obtained fragments and their relative abundances with those from certified standards. As the acquisition mode is full scan, it would be also possible to re-process a previously acquired datafile for the investigation of untargeted analytes.