Fluorine-19 or phosphorus-31 NMR spectroscopy: a suitable analytical technique for quantitative in vitro metabolic studies of fluorinated or phosphorylated drugs

J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2005 Aug 10;38(5):871-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jpba.2005.01.047.


Fluorine-19 or phosphorus-31 NMR (19F NMR or 31P NMR) spectroscopy provides a highly specific tool for identification of fluorine- or phosphorus-containing drugs and their metabolites in biological media as well as a suitable analytical technique for their absolute quantification. This article focuses on the application of in vitro 19F or 31P NMR to the quantitative metabolic studies of some fluoropyrimidine or oxazaphosphorine drugs in clinical use. The first part presents an overview of the advantages (non-destructive and non-selective direct quantitative study of the biological matrices) and limitations (expensive cost of the spectrometers, limited mass or concentration sensitivity) of NMR spectroscopy. The second part deals with the criteria to be considered for successful quantification by NMR (uniform excitation over the entire spectral width of the spectrum, resonance signals properly characterised by taking into account T1 values and avoiding NOE enhancements, optimisation of the data processing, choice of a suitable standard reference). The third and fourth parts report some examples of quantification of 5-fluorouracil, its prodrug capecitabine, 5-fluorocytosine and their metabolites in bulk solutions (biofluids, tissue extracts, perfusates and culture media) and heterogeneous media (excised tissues and packed intact cells) as well as cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide in biofluids. These two parts emphasise the high potential of in vitro 19F or 31P NMR for absolute quantification, in a single run, of all the fluorine- or phosphorus-containing species in the matrices analysed. The limit of quantification in bulk solutions is 1-3 microM for 19F NMR and approximately 10 microM for 31P NMR. In heterogeneous media analysed with 19F NMR, it is 2-5 nmol in excised tissues and cell pellets.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cyclophosphamide / analogs & derivatives
  • Cyclophosphamide / analysis
  • Fluorine
  • Fluorouracil / analogs & derivatives
  • Fluorouracil / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Fluorinated / analysis*
  • Hydrocarbons, Fluorinated / chemistry
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / analysis*
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / chemistry
  • Phosphorus Isotopes


  • Hydrocarbons, Fluorinated
  • Organophosphorus Compounds
  • Phosphorus Isotopes
  • Fluorine
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Fluorouracil