Mass spectrometic study of speciation in aluminium-fluoroquinolone solutions

Eur J Mass Spectrom (Chichester). 2012;18(3):313-22. doi: 10.1255/ejms.1183.


Fluoroquinolones (FQLs) are synthetic antibacterial agents containing a 4-oxo-1,4-dihydroquinoline skeleton. When concomintantly administered with other drugs which may contain metal ions, particularly Al(3+) (antacids, phosphate binders, vaccines etc) they may form metal-drug complexes. Pharmacokinetic studies showed that aluminium-quinolone interactions lead to reduced bio- availability and altered activity of the drug with possible development of the toxic effects of aluminum ion. Reliable speciation in Al(3+) - quinolone systems at micromolar concentration level is needed to better understand pharmaco- and toxicokinetics of the FQLs in the presence of Al. In this work, the speciation in solutions containing Al(3+) and FQL family members (fleroxacin, moxifloxacin and ciprofloxacin) was studied by electrospray mass spectrometry (ESI-MS), ESI-MS/MS, and laser desorption ionization (LDI) MS. The dominating species identified in all the three Al(3+)-FQL solutions, at ca 30-50 µmol L(-1) total Al concentration and 2:1 to 1:3 metal-to-ligand ratio in the pH range 3.0- 6.0, were the ions related to the complexes AlL(2+), AlL(2)(+) and AlL(3)(0) (L = ligand in the monodeprotonated form). Mixed protonated and hydroxo complexes were also formed at lower and higher pH values respectively and, as expected, dimeric and polymeric species were not observed in ESI spectra. LDI measurements confirmed the existence of the mononuclear complexes found by ESI, and indicated the formation of polymeric species. The ion [2Al(3+) +5(-)](+) was identified with all three FQLs. This ionic species most probably arises from Al(2)L(2) by clustering with free ligand anions. Comparison of literature potentiometric data with mass spectral data indicated good agreement between speciation schemes. The obtained results suggest the presence of strong interaction between FQLs and Al(3+) which may be important in affecting absorption of these drugs in the gastrointestinal tract.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aluminum / analysis
  • Aluminum / chemistry*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / analysis
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry*
  • Aza Compounds / analysis
  • Aza Compounds / chemistry
  • Ciprofloxacin / analysis
  • Ciprofloxacin / chemistry
  • Fleroxacin / analysis
  • Fleroxacin / chemistry
  • Fluoroquinolones / analysis
  • Fluoroquinolones / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Models, Chemical
  • Moxifloxacin
  • Quinolines / analysis
  • Quinolines / chemistry
  • Solutions / analysis
  • Solutions / chemistry
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Aza Compounds
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Quinolines
  • Solutions
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Aluminum
  • Fleroxacin
  • Moxifloxacin