, Volume 400, Issue 1, pp 101-117
Date: 03 Dec 2010

Development and practical application of a library of CID accurate mass spectra of more than 2,500 toxic compounds for systematic toxicological analysis by LC–QTOF-MS with data-dependent acquisition

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A library of collision-induced dissociation (CID) accurate mass spectra has been developed for efficient use of liquid chromatography in combination with hybrid quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LC–QTOF-MS) as a tool in systematic toxicological analysis. The mass spectra (Δm < 3 ppm) of more than 2,500 illegal and therapeutic drugs, pesticides, alkaloids, other toxic chemicals and metabolites were measured, by use of an Agilent 6530 instrument, by flow-injection of 1 ng of the pure substances in aqueous ammonium formate–formic acid–methanol, with positive and negative electrospray-ionization (ESI), selection of the protonated or deprotonated molecules [M+H]+ or [M−H] by the quadrupole, and collision induced dissociation (CID) with nitrogen as collision gas at CID energies of 10, 20, and 40 eV. The fragment mass spectra were controlled for structural plausibility, corrected by recalculation to the theoretical fragment masses and added to a database of accurate mass data and molecular formulas of more than 7,500 toxicologically relevant substances to form the “database and library of toxic compounds”. For practical evaluation, blood and urine samples were spiked with a mixture of 33 drugs at seven concentrations between 0.5 and 500 ng mL−1, prepared by dichloromethane extraction or protein precipitation, and analyzed by LC–QTOF-MS in data-dependent acquisition mode. Unambiguous identification by library search was possible for typical basic drugs down to 0.5–2 ng mL−1 and for benzodiazepines down to 2–20 ng mL−1. The efficiency of the method was also demonstrated by re-analysis of venous blood samples from 50 death cases and comparison with previous results. In conclusion, LC–QTOF-MS in data-dependent acquisition mode combined with an accurate mass database and CID spectra library seemed to be one of the most efficient tools for systematic toxicological analysis.


LC-QTOF-MS file measured in auto-MS-MS mode from a blood sample of a poisoning case after application of the tool “File Compounds”

Published in the special issue Forensic Toxicology with Guest Editors Frank T. Peters, Hans H. Maurer, and Frank Musshoff.