Simultaneously quantifying parent drugs and screening for metabolites in plasma pharmacokinetic samples using selected reaction monitoring information-dependent acquisition on a QTrap instrument

Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2005;19(14):1943-50. doi: 10.1002/rcm.2008.


Bioanalytical support of plasma pharmacokinetic (PK) studies for drug discovery programs primarily involves the quantitative analysis of dosed compounds using liquid chromatography/atmospheric pressure ionization tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) operated in selected reaction monitoring (SRM) mode. However, there is a growing need for information on the metabolism of new chemical entities (NCEs), in addition to the time-concentration profiles from these studies. In this paper, we present a novel approach to not only quantify parent drugs with SRM, but also simultaneously screen for metabolites using a hybrid triple quadrupole/linear ion trap (QqQ(LIT)) instrument. This was achieved by incorporating both the conventional SRM-only acquisition of parent compounds and the SRM-triggered information-dependent acquisition (IDA) of potential metabolites within the same scan cycle during the same LC/MS/MS run. Two test compounds were used to demonstrate the applicability of this approach. Plasma samples from PK studies were processed by simple protein precipitation and the supernatant was diluted with water before injection. The fast scanning capability of the linear ion trap allowed for the information-dependent acquisition of metabolite MS/MS spectra (<1 s/scan), in addition to the collection of adequate data points for SRM-only channels. The MS/MS spectra obtained from potential metabolites in post-dose samples correlated well with the spectra of the parent compounds studied, therefore providing additional confirmatory structure information without the need for repetitive analyses. Relative quantitative time-concentration profiles of identified metabolites were also obtained. Furthermore, this articulated SRM+SRM-IDA approach generated equivalent quantitative results for parent compounds to those obtained by conventional SRM-only analysis. This approach has been successfully used to support discovery PK screening programs.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calibration
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / instrumentation*
  • Haplorhini
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / blood*
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations