Identification with liquid chromatography-ionspray mass spectrometry of the metabolites of the enantiomers N-methyl dextrorphan and N-methyl levorphanol after rat liver perfusion.
To gather more information on stereochemical factors in the hepatic disposition of organic cations, mass spectrometry coupled to liquid chromatography was used to determine the identity of the metabolites excreted in bile after isolated rat liver perfusions with the quaternary ammonium derivatives of the enantiomeric drugs dextrorphan and levorphanol. Ionspray mass spectrometry was chosen for its soft ionization and absence of thermal degradation of labile compounds. The drugs were labelled with a stable (2H) isotope and mixed with unlabelled drugs to create an artificial isotope pattern in the mass spectrum and facilitate the recognition of unknown metabolites. In mass spectra that were recorded under normal conditions, fragmentation was absent and metabolites of N-methyl dextrorphan and N-methyl levorphanol were visible as parent-ion 'doublets'. Collision-induced fragmentation studies were performed to support the identification of the metabolites. For N-methyl dextrorphan the glucuronide, the glutathione conjugate and the glucuronide of the N-demethylated metabolite were found in bile. For N-methyl levorphanol the glucuronide, the glutathione conjugate, the sulphate conjugate and the glucuronide of a hydroxylated N-methyl levorphanol were excreted in bile. Thus a remarkable stereoselectivity occurs in the metabolism of these quaternary ammonium compounds in the rat liver.
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