Analytical chemistry

Constant Ion Loss Method for the Untargeted Detection of Bis-sulfate Metabolites.

PMID 27982580


The untargeted detection of phase II metabolites is a key issue for the study of drug metabolism in biological systems. Sensitive and selective mass spectrometric (MS) techniques coupled to ultrahigh performance liquid chromatographic (UHPLC) systems are the most effective for this purpose. In this study, we evaluate different MS approaches with a triple quadrupole instrument for the untargeted detection of bis-sulfate metabolites. Bis-sulfates of 23 steroid metabolites were synthesized and their MS behavior was comprehensively studied. Bis-sulfates ionized preferentially as the dianion ([M - 2H](2-)) with a small contribution of the monoanion ([M - H](-)). Product ion spectra generated from the [M - 2H](2-) precursor ions were dominated by the loss of HSO4(-) to generate two product ions, that is, the ion at m/z 97 (HSO4(-)) and the ion corresponding to the remaining monosulfate fragment. Other product ions were found to be specific for some structures. As an example, the loss of [CH3 + SO3](-) was found to be important for several compounds with unsaturation adjacent to the sulfate. On the basis of the common behavior of the bis-sulfate metabolites two alternatives were evaluated for the untargeted detection of bis-sulfate metabolites (i) a precursor ion scan method using the ion at m/z 97 and (ii) a constant ion loss (CIL) method using the loss of HSO4(-). Both methods allowed for the untargeted detection of the model compounds. Eight steroid bis-sulfates were synthesized in high purity in order to quantitatively evaluate the developed strategies. Lower limits of detection (2-20 ng/mL) were obtained using the CIL method. Additionally, the CIL method was found to be more specific in the detection of urinary bis-sulfates. The applicability of the CIL approach was demonstrated by determining progestogens altered during pregnancy and by detecting the bis-sulfate metabolites of tibolone.