A generic workflow for the characterization of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies—application to daratumumab

  • Bastiaan L. Duivelshof
  • Szabolcs Fekete
  • Davy GuillarmeEmail author
  • Valentina D’Atri
Paper in Forefront
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Young Investigators in (Bio-)Analytical Chemistry


In the present analytical workflow, chromatographic methods have been developed and hyphenated to mass spectrometry (MS) for the characterization of protein size, charge, hydrophobic, and hydrophilic variants of daratumumab. Multiple critical quality attributes (CQAs) were characterized in forced degraded daratumumab sample, using size exclusion, ion exchange (IEX), and hydrophobic interaction (HIC) chromatography coupled to fluorescence detection for relative quantification and fractionation. Mass assignment was performed by using a fast, non-denaturing and universal size exclusion chromatography (SEC) method prior to native MS analysis of the collected fractions (off-line approach). This allowed the identification of N-terminal lysine clipping, and the extent of glycation and oxidation at intact protein level. Finally, middle-up analysis of daratumumab was performed using reversed phase (RPLC) and hydrophilic interaction (HILIC) chromatography coupled to MS to obtain a comprehensive overview of all PTMs after the forced stressed conditions and a fine characterization of the glycosylation profile. Conveniently, the presented workflow maintains the established golden standard non-denaturing chromatography techniques and additionally introduces a straightforward and automated desalting procedure prior to MS analysis. Therefore, it is expected that the off-line coupling of SEC, IEX, and HIC to SEC-MS has great potential to be implemented in routine characterization of mAbs.

Graphical abstract


Monoclonal antibodies Size exclusion chromatography Ion exchange chromatography Reversed phase chromatography Hydrophilic interaction chromatography Mass spectrometry 



Davy Guillarme wishes to thank the Swiss National Science Foundation for support through a fellowship to Szabolcs Fekete (31003A 159494). Jean-Luc Veuthey from the University of Geneva is also acknowledged for useful comments and discussions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bastiaan L. Duivelshof
    • 1
  • Szabolcs Fekete
    • 1
  • Davy Guillarme
    • 1
    Email author
  • Valentina D’Atri
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Pharmaceutical SciencesUniversity of Geneva, University of LausanneGeneva 4Switzerland

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