Suspected-target and non-targeted screenings of phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors in herbal remedies using liquid chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight-mass spectrometry.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Drug testing and analysis, 2020
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The lucrative market of herbal remedies spurs rampant adulteration, particularly with pharmaceutical drugs and their unapproved analogues. A comprehensive screening strategy is, therefore, warranted to detect these adulterants and, accordingly, to safeguard public health. This study uses the data-dependent acquisition of liquid chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight-mass spectrometry (LC-QTOF-MS) to screen phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors in herbal remedies using suspected-target and non-targeted strategies. For the suspected-target screening, we used a library comprising 95 PDE5 inhibitors. For the non-targeted screening, we adopted top-down and bottom-up approaches to flag novel PDE5 inhibitor analogues based on common fragmentation patterns. LC-QTOF-MS was optimised and validated for capsule and tablet dosage forms using 23 target analytes, selected to represent different groups of PDE5 inhibitors. The method exhibited excellent specificity and linearity with limit of detection and limit of quantification of <40 and 80 ng/mL, respectively. The accuracy ranged from 79.0% to 124.7% with a precision of <14.9% relative standard deviation. The modified, quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe extraction provided insignificant matrix effect within -9.1%-8.0% and satisfactory extraction recovery of 71.5%-105.8%. These strategies were used to screen 52 herbal remedy samples that claimed to enhance male sexual performance. The suspected-target screening resulted in 33 positive samples, revealing 10 target analytes and 2 suspected analytes. Systematic MS and tandem MS interrogations using the non-targeted screening returned insignificant signals, indicating the absence of potentially novel analogues. The target analytes were quantified from 0.03 to 121.31 mg per dose of each sample. The proposed strategies ensure that all PDE5 inhibitors are comprehensively screened, providing a useful tool to curb the widespread adulteration of herbal remedies.
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