Journal of chromatography. A

Insight into the retention processes of phthalate metabolites on different liquid chromatography stationary phases for the development of improved separation methods.

PMID 26553955


The retention behavior of nine MPAEs has been studied, using commercial LC columns with octadecylsilane (ODS), phenyl, and amide-type SPs. First, it was found that the use of methanol in the mobile phase is not advisable, because induce a transesterification reaction of MPAEs in the electrospray ion source, regardless of the SP used. On the other hand, different responses were observed when representing the logarithm of retention factors (k) vs. the volume fraction of ACN (φ) in the mobile phase, for the three SPs tested. A quite linear trend was obtained for ODS (at φ values below 0.80) and Phenyl columns. On the contrary, the Amide column shows a striking U-shape trend, typical of both hydrophobic and hydrophilic retention mechanisms. Therefore, the separation process was mainly hydrophobic in the ODS and phenyl SPs, but in the amide-type a dual retention mechanism was found, showing zones with predominant hydrophobic or hydrophilic interactions, depending on both the compound and the experimental conditions. A high content of acetonitrile (>75%) and low concentration of formic acid in the mobile phase promote the hydrophilic separation mechanism for MPAEs on the amide SP. So, this dual separation mechanism can be modulated modifying the pH and content of organic modifier in the mobile phase, allowing greater flexibility to develop improved methods. Taking advantage of this, a separation method was optimized in this amide column using a Box-Wilson Central Composite experimental design, which allows separating the studied MPAEs with a time-saving of around 40% comparing to the conventional phenyl SP.