, Volume 378, Issue 5, pp 1305-1312
Date: 22 Jan 2004

Characterisation of selected drugs with nitrogen-containing saturated ring structures by use of electrospray ionisation with ion-trap mass spectrometry

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The electrospray ionisation–ion-trap mass spectrometry (ESI–MS n ) of selected drugs with nitrogen-containing saturated ring structures has been investigated. Sequential product-ion fragmentation experiments (MS n ) have been performed to elucidate degradation pathways for the [M+H]+ ions and their predominant fragment ions. These MS n experiments result in characteristic fragmentations in which functional groups are generally cleaved from the ring systems as neutral molecules such as H2O, amines, alkenes, esters, carboxylic acids, etc. When such a nitrogen-containing drug molecule also contains a functional group, such as an ester, that on liberation as a neutral molecule has a significantly lower −ΔH f° value than that of the corresponding amine then the former is preferentially liberated. Furthermore, when an aromatic entity is present in these drug molecules together with the nitrogen-containing saturated ring structure fragmentation of the latter ring occurs with the former, predictably, being resistant to fragmentation. The structures of fragment ions proposed for ESI–MS n can be supported by electrospray ionisation–quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (ESI–QTOFMS). The data presented in this paper therefore provide useful information on the structure of these heterocyclic compounds which could be used to characterise unknown drug compounds isolated from natural sources, for example.