Determining protein adducts of fipexide: mass spectrometry based assay for confirming the involvement of its reactive metabolite in covalent binding

Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2007;21(24):4149-57. doi: 10.1002/rcm.3329.


Fipexide is a nootropic drug, withdrawn from the market due to its idiosyncratic drug reactions causing adverse effects in man. Previous work on its metabolites has identified several potential reactive metabolites which could be implicated in protein binding. Here, we investigated the formation of these metabolites in rat and human hepatocytes. Based on these results, the o-quinone of fipexide (FIP), formed via the demethylenation reaction through a catechol intermediate, was chosen for further investigation. Studies were then pursued in order to relate this metabolite to protein binding, and thus better understand potential mechanisms for the toxicity of the parent compound. An assay was developed for determining the fipexide catechol-cysteine adduct in the microsomal protein fractions following in vitro incubations. This method digests the entire protein fraction into amino acids, followed by the detection of the Cys-metabolite adduct by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS). We have designed a strategy where drug metabolism taking place in microsomal incubations and involved in protein binding can be assessed after the proteins have been digested, with the detection of the specific amino acid adduct. In this study, the structure of the fipexide adduct was hypothesized using knowledge previously gained in glutathione and N-acetylcysteine trapping experiments. Acetaminophen was used as a positive control for detecting a drug metabolite-cysteine adduct by LC/MS. This approach has the potential to be applicable as a protein-binding assay in early drug discovery without the need for radioactive compounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzoquinones / chemistry
  • Benzoquinones / metabolism
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cysteine / chemistry
  • Cysteine / metabolism
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods
  • Hepatocytes / chemistry
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Microsomes, Liver / chemistry
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism
  • Nootropic Agents / chemistry
  • Nootropic Agents / metabolism*
  • Piperazines / chemistry
  • Piperazines / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Rats
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods*


  • Benzoquinones
  • Nootropic Agents
  • Piperazines
  • quinone
  • Cysteine
  • fipexide