Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 400, Issue 9, pp 3053–3064 | Cite as

Chemical profile of meta-chlorophenylpiperazine (m-CPP) in ecstasy tablets by easy ambient sonic-spray ionization, X-ray fluorescence, ion mobility mass spectrometry and NMR

  • Wanderson Romão
  • Priscila M. Lalli
  • Marcos F. Franco
  • Gustavo Sanvido
  • Nicolas V. Schwab
  • Rafael Lanaro
  • José Luiz Costa
  • Bruno D. Sabino
  • Maria Izabel M. S. Bueno
  • Gilberto F. de Sa
  • Romeu J. Daroda
  • Vanderlea de Souza
  • Marcos N. Eberlin
Original Paper


Meta-chlorophenylpiperazine (m-CPP) is a new illicit drug that has been sold as ecstasy tablets. Easy ambient sonic-spray ionization mass spectrometry (EASI-MS) and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) are shown to provide relatively simple and selective screening tools to distinguish m-CPP tablets from tablets containing amphetamines (mainly 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)). EASI-MS detects the active ingredients in their protonated forms: [m-CPP + H]+ of m/z 197, [MDMA + H]+ of m/z 194, and [2MDMA + HCl + H]+ of m/z 423 and other ions from excipients directly on the tablet surface, providing distinct chemical fingerprints. XRF identifies Cl, K, Ca, Fe, and Cu as inorganic ingredients present in the m-CPP tablets. In contrast, higher Cl concentrations and a more diverse set of elements (P, Cl, Ca, Fe, Cu, Zn, Pt, V, Hf, Ti, Pt, and Zr) were found in MDMA tablets. Principal component analysis applied to XRF data arranged samples in three groups: m-CPP tablets (four samples), MDMA tablets (twenty three samples), and tablets with no active ingredients (three samples). The EASI-MS and XRF techniques were also evaluated to quantify m-CPP in ecstasy tablets, with concentrations ranging from 4 to 40 mg of m-CPP per tablets. The m-CPP could only be differentiated from its isomers (o-CPP and for the three isomers p-CPP) by traveling wave ion mobility mass spectrometry and NMR measurements.


Drug monitoring/drug screening Ambient mass spectrometry/EASI-MS Forensics/toxicology Metals/heavy metals X-ray spectroscopy (XPS | XRF | EDX) NMR/ESR 



The authors thank the Rio de Janeiro Civil and Brazilian Federal Polices for providing the ecstasy samples. This research has also been generously funded by: FAPESP (2009/07168-9 and 2007/54357-6), CNPq (576183/2008-3), FAPERJ (E-26/190.060/2008), and FINEP.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wanderson Romão
    • 1
  • Priscila M. Lalli
    • 1
  • Marcos F. Franco
    • 1
  • Gustavo Sanvido
    • 1
  • Nicolas V. Schwab
    • 2
  • Rafael Lanaro
    • 3
  • José Luiz Costa
    • 3
  • Bruno D. Sabino
    • 4
  • Maria Izabel M. S. Bueno
    • 2
  • Gilberto F. de Sa
    • 5
    • 6
  • Romeu J. Daroda
    • 5
  • Vanderlea de Souza
    • 5
  • Marcos N. Eberlin
    • 1
  1. 1.ThoMSon Mass Spectrometry LaboratoryUniversity of Campinas-UNICAMPCampinasBrazil
  2. 2.X-Ray Spectroscopy Group, Institute of ChemistryUniversity of Campinas-UNICAMPCampinasBrazil
  3. 3.Poison Control Center–Faculty of Medical SciencesUniversity of Campinas-UNICAMPCampinasBrazil
  4. 4.Carlos Éboli Institute of CriminalisticsRio de JaneiroBrazil
  5. 5.Division of Chemical Metrology, Directorate of Industrial and Scientific MetrologyNational Institute of Metrology, Standardization and Industrial QualityDuque de CaxiasBrazil
  6. 6.Department of Fundamental ChemistryFederal University of PernambucoRecifeBrazil

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