Electrospray collision-induced dissociation of testosterone and testosterone hydroxy analogs

J Mass Spectrom. 1999 Mar;34(3):206-16. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9888(199903)34:3<206::AID-JMS785>3.0.CO;2-1.


Complications with the gas chromatographic analysis of steroids prompted the use of alternative techniques for their identification. High-performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry with atmospheric pressure ionization allowed the collection of data for structural identification of these compounds. The objective of this study was to investigate the up-front collision-induced dissociation (UFCID) electrospray ionization (ESI) mass spectra of testosterone and monohydroxylated testosterones. The positive ion UFCID ESI mass spectrum of testosterone showed three significant ions at m/z 97, 109 and 123. The relative abundance of these ions in the UFCID ESI mass spectra of monohydroxylated testosterones varied with the position of the hydroxy group. Statistical data allowed the prediction of hydroxy group position on testosterone by evaluation of the relative abundance of the m/z 97, 109, 121 and 123 ions. Data from the ESI mass spectral analysis of testosterone in a deuterated solvent and from the analysis of cholestenone and 4-androstene-3 beta, 17 beta-diol indicated that the initial ionization of testosterone occurred at the 3-one position. CID parent ion monitoring analyses of the m/z 97, 109 and 123 ions indicated that each resulted from different fragmentation mechanisms and originated directly from the [M + H]+ parent ion. The elemental composition of these fragment ions is proposed based on evidence gathered from the CID analysis of the pseudo-molecular ions of [1,2-2H2]-, [2,2,4,6,6-2H5]-, [6,7-2H2]-, [7-2H]-, [19,19,19-2H3]- and [3,4-13C2]testosterone. The structure and a possible mechanism of formation of the m/z 109 and 123 ions is presented. The results of this study advance the understanding of the mechanisms of collision-induced fragmentation of ions.

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Molecular Structure
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Secondary Ion / methods
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Testosterone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Testosterone / chemistry*


  • Testosterone