Synthesis of 2,3- and 3,4-methylenedioxyphenylalkylamines and their regioisomeric differentiation by mass spectral analysis using GC-MS-MS

Forensic Sci Int. 2000 Dec 11;114(3):139-53. doi: 10.1016/s0379-0738(00)00296-6.


3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) derivatives are increasingly abused central nervous system stimulants with neurotoxic properties. In recent years a number of controlled substance analogs (designer drugs) with high structural variety reached the illegal market making their identification an arduous task. The underivatized compounds give very similar or even virtually identical electron impact mass spectra containing mainly intense C(n)H(2n+2)N(+) immonium ions. Using tandem mass spectrometry (MS-MS) the additional structural information contained in the collision induced dissoziation (CID) mass spectra of molecular ions using electron impact (EI) and especially chemical ionization (CI) allowed an unequivocal differentiation of 18 studied regioisomeric 1-(methylenedioxyphenyl)-2-propanamines and 1-(methylenedioxyphenyl)-2-butanamines. Further synthetic methods are presented for 1-(3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl)-N-propyl-2-butanamine, N-isopropyl-1-(3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl)-2-butanamine and four 1-(2, 3-methylenedioxyphenyl)-2-butanamines. N-alkylated 1-(3, 4-methylenedioxyphenyl)-2-butanamine compounds (e.g. MBDB) are also known to be abused psychoactive agents (entactogenes) without the sympatomimetic effects of the 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamines.

MeSH terms

  • 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine / analogs & derivatives*
  • 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine / chemistry*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / chemistry*
  • Designer Drugs / chemistry*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / chemistry*
  • Isomerism
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Designer Drugs
  • Illicit Drugs
  • 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine