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Journal: Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry


Diosmin is a flavonoid often administered in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency, hemorrhoids, and related affections. Diosmin is rapidly hydrolized in the intestine to its aglicone, diosmetin, which is further metabolized to conjugates. In this study, the development and validations of three new methods for the determination of diosmetin, free and after enzymatic deconjugation, and of its potential glucuronide metabolites, diosmetin-3-O-glucuronide, diosmetin-7-O-glucuronide, and diosmetin-3,7-O-glucuronide from human plasma and urine are presented. First, the quantification of diosmetin, free and after deconjugation, was carried out by high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry, on an Ascentis RP-Amide column (150 × 2.1 mm, 5 μm), in reversed-phase conditions, after enzymatic digestion. Then glucuronide metabolites from plasma were separated by micro-liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry on a HALO C18 (50 × 0.3 mm, 2.7 μm, 90 Å) column, after solid-phase extraction. Finally, glucuronides from urine were measured using a Discovery HSF5 (100 × 2.1 mm, 5 μm) column, after simple dilution with mobile phase. The methods were validated by assessing linearity, accuracy, precision, low limit of quantification, selectivity, extraction recovery, stability, and matrix effects; results in agreement with regulatory (Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency) guidelines acceptance criteria were obtained in all cases. The methods were applied to a pharmacokinetic study with diosmin (450 mg orally administered tablets). The mean C max of diosmetin in plasma was 6,049.3 ± 5,548.6 pg/mL. A very good correlation between measured diosmetin and glucuronide metabolites concentrations was obtained. Diosmetin-3-O-glucuronide was identified as a major circulating metabolite of diosmetin in plasma and in urine, and this finding was confirmed by supplementary experiments with differential ion-mobility mass spectrometry.

Concepts: Protein, Pharmacology, Metabolism, Mass spectrometry, Chromatography, High performance liquid chromatography, Analytical chemistry, Chromatography in blood processing


Seeds of plants from Ipomoea genera contain numerous ergot alkaloids, including psychoactive ergine and ergometrine, and are often abused as so-called “legal highs.” In this work, an analytical method for determination of ergine and ergometrine, and identification of other alkaloids was developed, optimized, and validated. Three extraction techniques, ultrasound-assisted extraction in bath, or with sonotrode, and microwave-assisted extraction were evaluated, and it was concluded that ultrasonic bath is the most suitable technique for extraction of ergot alkaloids. The extraction method was later optimized using a Doehlert experimental design with response surface methodology and used together with the optimized LC-Q-TOF-MS method. The analytical procedure was validated in terms of recovery and matrix effect, repeatability, and intermediate precision. Limits of detection and quantification were 1.0 and 3.0 ng mL(-1), respectively, and were sufficient for determination of ergot alkaloids in Ipomoea seeds. The analysis revealed that from five kinds of seeds purchased from different vendors, only three contained ergot alkaloids. Concentration of alkaloids and their relative abundance was similar in samples representative for whole seeds packs; however, when single seeds were analyzed, significant discrepancies in ergine and ergometrine concentrations were detected. Graphical Abstract Identification of six ergot alkaloids and determination of ergine and ergometrine in Morning glory seeds using the ultrasound-assisted extraction followed the LC-MS analysis.

Concepts: Alkaloid, Ergot, Optimal design, Ergoline, Ipomoea, Ergometrine, Morning glory, Ergine


Hydrophilic interaction chromatography (HILIC) coupled with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) was optimized for speciation analysis of gadolinium-based contrast agents in environmental samples, in particular surface river waters and plants. Surface water samples from the Teltow channel, near Berlin, were investigated over a distance of 5 km downstream from the influx of a wastewater treatment plant. The total concentration of gadolinium increased significantly from 50 to 990 ng L(-1) due to the influx of the contrast agents. After complete mixing with the river water, the concentration remained constant over a distance of at least 4 km. Two main substances [Dotarem® (Gd-DOTA) and Gadovist® (Gd-BT-DO3A)] have been identified in the river water using standards. A gadolinium-based contrast agent, possibly Gd-DOTA (Dotarem®), was also detected in water plant samples taken from the Teltow channel. Therefore, uptake of contrast agents [Gadovist® (Gd-BTDO3A), Magnevist® (Gd-DTPA), Omniscan® (Gd-DTPA-BMA), Dotarem® (Gd-DOTA), and Multihance® (Gd-BOPTA)] by plants was investigated in a model experiment using Lepidium sativum (cress plants). HILIC-ICP-MS was used for identification of different contrast agents, and a first approach for quantification using aqueous standard solutions was tested. For speciation analysis, all investigated contrast agents could be extracted from the plant tissues with a recovery of about 54 % for Multihance® (Gd-BOPTA) up to 106 % for Gadovist® (Gd-BT-DO3A). These experiments demonstrate that all contrast agents investigated are transported from the roots to the leaves where the highest content was measured.

Concepts: Plant, Water, Chemistry, Sewage treatment, Contrast medium, Contrast, Garden cress, Watercress


Liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry has been compared to shotgun analysis with the objective of finding the best compromise for a single run analysis of whole cell phospholipids. Hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC), normal phase (NP), and reversed phase (RP) liquid chromatography were evaluated with reference phospholipids belonging to phosphatidic acid (PA), phosphatidylcholine (PC), phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), phosphatidylglycerol (PG), phosphatidylinositol (PI), and phosphatidylserine (PS) classes. NP-HPLC- and RP-HPLC-ESI-MS/MS were applied to yeast phospholipidome analysis, using a wild-type strain and two strains defective for acyltransferases that are known to be involved in de novo phospholipid synthesis or phospholipid remodeling. The MRM mode was used for relative quantitation of individual compounds based on reference phospholipids bearing fatty acid chains with an odd number of carbon atoms. Combined LC-MS/MS was found superior to shotgun analysis, leading to a larger number of quantified species than shotgun analysis. Finally, RP-HPLC-MS/MS was the preferred method for its higher selectivity, robustness, and better repeatability.

Concepts: Cholesterol, Carbon dioxide, Signal transduction, Fatty acid, Phosphatidic acid, Phospholipid, Phosphatidylcholine, Phospholipids


Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) has been recently adopted as a diagnostic marker of type 2 diabetes. However, its usage is currently limited to fresh blood samples. To allow retrospective HbA1c measurement in blood banks developed in large epidemic studies, here, we contribute to validate HbA1c assessment in frozen versus fresh blood samples from a cohort of diabetic/nondiabetic adult subjects. HbA1c was measured by HPLC in 237 fresh whole blood samples and on the same samples after a 12-month storage and a further 6-month-refrozen storage. Mean HbA1c ± SD in fresh, frozen, and refrozen samples was 6.9 ± 1.2, 6.6 ± 1.1, and 6.4 ± 1.0 % for the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial and 52 ± 13, 49 ± 12, and 46 ± 11 mmol/mol for the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine reference, respectively. A significant correlation was found between fresh/frozen and fresh/refrozen (R = 0.994 and 0.993, P < 0.001) samples. HbA1c relative error ratio (%RER) between frozen/refrozen and fresh samples significantly correlated with HbA1c and depended on fresh value range, increasing in the five HbA1c classes (<6.0, 6.0-6.5, 6.5-7, 7-8, ≥8 %, corresponding to <42, 42-48, 48-53, 53-64, ≥64 mmol/mol, P < 0.001). In particular, the 6.5 % (48 mmol/mol) HbA1c diagnostic cutoff of fresh samples identified two classes reflecting significant differences in %RER (2.8 ± 2.0 and 3.3 ± 1.7; P < 0.05) between frozen and fresh samples. In conclusion, our results demonstrate a high correlation between data from fresh and frozen samples, with a very limited %RER between the two measurements, which increases with baseline HbA1c levels. Accordingly, when analyzing biobank frozen specimens for diagnostic purpose, the effect of the HbA1c range should be taken into account.

Concepts: Blood, Diabetes mellitus, Measurement, Diabetes, Blood plasma, Glycated hemoglobin, Glycation, Blood donation


A number of methods of clandestine manufacture of methylamphetamine involve the extraction and subsequent reaction of pseudoephedrine hydrochloride with other essential chemicals. The precursor can be easily extracted from over-the-counter medication widely available in the UK and elsewhere. Essential chemicals such as iodine and red phosphorous are also readily available and can be extracted from iodine tinctures and matchboxes, respectively. This work reports the repetitive preparation of methylamphetamine using two popular routes (the Moscow and Hypophosphorous synthesis). The focus was on the extraction solvent used for isolation of the precursor chemical and any consequential isotopic variation which may arise in the final product. Six batches of methylamphetamine were prepared under precisely controlled conditions for each synthetic route and for each of three different precursor extraction solvents. Synthesis of the final product from laboratory grade precursor using the synthetic methods described was used as a template for comparison. The resultant IRMS data from all 48 prepared samples suggests some underlying trends in the identification of the synthetic route which may aid in the interpretation of IRMS data derived from clandestine samples.

Concepts: Chemical reaction, Over-the-counter drug, Food and Drug Administration, Methamphetamine, Clandestine chemistry, Ephedrine, Pseudoephedrine, Phenylpropanolamine


Dabigatran etexilate (DABE) is an oral prodrug that is rapidly converted by esterases to dabigatran (DAB), a direct inhibitor of thrombin. To elucidate the esterase-mediated metabolic pathway of DABE, a high-performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry based metabolite identification and semi-quantitative estimation approach was developed. To overcome the poor full-scan sensitivity of conventional triple quadrupole mass spectrometry, precursor-product ion pairs were predicted to search for the potential in vitro metabolites. The detected metabolites were confirmed by the product ion scan. A dilution method was introduced to evaluate the matrix effects on tentatively identified metabolites without chemical standards. Quantitative information on detected metabolites was obtained using “metabolite standards” generated from incubation samples that contain a high concentration of metabolite in combination with a correction factor for mass spectrometry response. Two in vitro metabolites of DABE (M1 and M2) were identified, and quantified by the semi-quantitative estimation approach. It is noteworthy that CES1 converts DABE to M1 while CES2 mediates the conversion of DABE to M2. M1 and M2 were further metabolized to DAB by CES2 and CES1, respectively. The approach presented here provides a solution to a bioanalytical need for fast identification and semi-quantitative estimation of CES metabolites in preclinical samples.

Concepts: Metabolism, Mass spectrometry, Concentration, Metabolic pathway, Metabolomics, Quadrupole mass analyzer, Metabolome, Religious conversion


A recently developed solvent-free compressed-sample technique for matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS) analysis allows the reproducible analysis of synthetic polymers and peptides up to 3,500 Da. In this work, we present an improvement in resolution, an increase in intensity and a decrease of the variation coefficient, as illustrated by the analysis of PEG 2000 and MALDI imaging experiments. These advantages were achieved by homogenization of the electrical field, which was disturbed by the drills in the original MALDI target. In order to homogenize the electrical field, a new target with smaller drills was developed, metal powder was added to the matrix/analyte mixture and a round laser raster was used. Furthermore, a ball mill was implemented for the sample preparation to replace the extremely user-dependent grinding in a mortar. The new conditions were successfully applied to the quantification of several peptides of higher molecular weight and gave higher precision than had previously been achieved with the compressed-sample technique.

Concepts: Scientific method, Mass spectrometry, Mass, In-gel digestion, Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization, MALDI imaging


The main objective of the following study was to determine the efficiency of a method that uses coconut charcoal as a solid-phase extraction (SPE) adsorbent in order to simultaneously detect six hydrophilic ether species in water in the low microgram-per-liter range. The applied method was validated for quantification of ethyl tert-butyl ether, 1,4-dioxane, ethylene glycol dimethyl ether (monoglyme), diethylene glycol dimethyl ether (diglyme), triethylene glycol dimethyl ether (triglyme) and tetraethylene glycol dimethyl ether (tetraglyme). SPE followed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry of the extracts using the selected ion monitoring mode allowed for establishing low detection limits in the range of 0.007-0.018 μg/L in ultrapure water and 0.004-0.020 μg/L in environmental samples. Examination of the method accuracy and precision resulted in a recovery greater than 86.8 % for each compound with a relative standard deviation of less than 6.6 %. A stability study established a 5-day holding time for the unpreserved water samples and extracts. Finally, 27 samples obtained from surface water bodies in Germany were analyzed for the six hydrophilic ethers. Each analyte was detected in at least eight samples at concentrations reaching 2.0 μg/L. The results of this study emphasize the advantage of the method to simultaneously determine six hydrophilic ether compounds. The outcome of the surface water analyses augments a concern about their frequent and significant presence in surface water bodies in Germany.

Concepts: Ether, Ethylene glycol, Ethylene oxide, Diethylene glycol, Triethylene glycol, Ethers, Glycol ethers, Dimethoxyethane


For humans, Ni is not considered to be an essential trace element. Its compounds, at levels present in foodstuffs and drinks, are generally considered to be safe for consumption, but for individuals who already suffer from contact allergy to Ni and may be subject to develop systemic reactions from its dietary ingestion, dietary exposure to Ni must be kept under control. Being the second most popular beverage, tea is a potential source of dietary Ni. Present knowledge on its speciation in tea infusions is poor. Therefore, complete speciation analysis, consisting of separation by liquid chromatography using a weak CIM DEAE-1 monolithic column, “on-line” detection by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and “off-line” identification of ligands by hybrid quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (Q-TOF MS), was implemented for the first time to study Ni speciation in tea infusions. Total concentrations of Ni in dry leaves of white, green, oolong and black tea (Camellia sinensis) and flowers of herbal chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) and hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) tea were determined after microwave digestion by ICP-MS. They lay between 1.21 and 14.4 mg kg(-1). Good agreement between the determined and the certified values of the Ni content in the standard reference material SRM 1573a tomato leaves confirmed the accuracy of the total Ni determination. During the infusion process, up to 85 % of Ni was extracted from tea leaves or flowers. Separation of Ni species was completed in 10 min by applying aqueous linear gradient elution with 0.6 mol L(-1) NH(4)NO(3). Ni was found to be present in the chromatographic fraction in which quinic acid was identified by Q-TOF in all the tea infusions analysed, which had pH values between 5.6 and 6.0. The only exception was the infusion of hibiscus tea with a pH of 2.7, where results of speciation analysis showed that Ni is present in its divalent ionic form.

Concepts: Chromatography, Analytical chemistry, Tea, Camellia sinensis, Medicinal plants, Pu-erh tea, Oolong, Herbal tea