Identification of Metabolites of Peptide-Derived Drugs Using an Isotope-Labeled Reporter Ion Screening Strategy

Identification of Metabolites of Peptide-Derived Drugs Using an Isotope-Labeled Reporter Ion Screening Strategy / Andreas Thomas, Mario Thevis. - (Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (2019) 1009 (20 December); p. 1437-4331)

  • PMID: 31860462.
  • DOI: 10.1515/cclm-2019-1009


Background Peptide-derived drugs represent an emerging class of prohibited substances in professional sports and, thus, in modern doping controls. After parental administration (e.g. subcutaneous, intravenous), these drugs undergo various metabolic processes, which degrade them to biologically active or inactive peptides. Knowledge about these metabolic processes and the hereby produced metabolites plays a key role in successful doping controls due to the effective design of analytical assays under consideration of optimal analytical targets. Unfortunately, the complexity of biological matrix (e.g. blood or urine) complicates the immediate identification of relevant metabolites due to the enormous excess of naturally occurring peptides and their degradation products. Methods In this study, a strategy employing in-vitro metabolism of stable isotope-labeled peptides producing characteristic reporter ions derived from labeled immonium ions is shown. The in-vitro experiments were performed with human skin tissue microsomes (S9), and model drugs representing prohibited peptide hormones were synacthen, insulin, and corticorelin (respectively, their stable isotope-labeled analogs). After generic sample preparation, the metabolites were identified by means of liquid chromatography (LC) coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry (MS) in an untargeted approach. Results and conclusions For all three model peptides, several metabolic products were readily identified. While insulin and corticorelin were found to be comparably stable, synacthen was fully degraded, yielding a plethora of metabolic products. A proof of concept concerning the transferability of the obtained data was accomplished by analyzing plasma samples collected post-administration of recombinant human insulin, corroborating the presence of a skin protease-indicative insulin metabolite in vivo.


Research / Study
20 December 2019
Thevis, Mario
Thomas, Andreas
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Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln (DSHS) - German Sport University Cologne
European Monitoring Center for Emerging Doping Agents (EuMoCEDA)
Analytical aspects
Mass spectrometry analysis
Testing method development
Doping classes
S2. Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors
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19 November 2019
Date of last modification
7 September 2020
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