Studies of the metabolic fate of drugs and other xenobiotics in living systems may be divided into three broad areas: (1) elucidation of biotransformation pathways through identification of circulatory and excretory metabolites (qualitative studies); (2) determination of pharmacokinetics of the parent drug and/or its primary metabolites (quantitative studies); and (3) identification of chemically-reactive metabolites, which play a key role as mediators of drug-induced toxicities (mechanistic studies). Mass spectrometry has been regarded as one of the most important analytical tools in studies of drug metabolism, pharmacokinetics and biochemical toxicology. With the commercial introduction of new ionization methods such as those based on atmospheric pressure ionization (API) techniques and the combination of liquid chromatography- mass spectrometry (LC-MS), it has now become a truly indispensable technique in pharmaceutical research. Triple stage quadrupole and ion trap mass spectrometers are presently used for this purpose, because of their sensitivity and selectivity. API-TOF mass spectrometry has also been very attractive due to its enhanced full-scan sensitivity, scan speed, improved resolution and ability to measure the accurate masses for protonated molecules and fragment ions. This review aims to survey the utility of mass spectrometry in drug metabolism and toxicology and to highlight novel applications and future trends in this field.
Keywords: LC-MS/MS, metabolites, structural characterization, derivatization, H/D-exchange, LC-NMR, toxicology, pharmacokinetics, reactive intermediates
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