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Distinguishing two isomeric mephedrone substitutes with selective reagent ionisation mass spectrometry (SRI-MS).

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

  • Matteo Lanza
  • Joe Acton
  • Simone Jürschik
  • Philipp Sulzer
  • Kostiantyn Breiev
  • Alfons Jordan
  • Eugen Hartungen
  • Gernot Hanel
  • Lukas Märk
  • Chris A. Mayhew
  • Tilmann D. Märk
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2013
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Mass Spectrometry
Issue number9
Number of pages4
Pages (from-to)1015-1018
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date30/08/13
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The isomers 4-methylethcathinone and N-ethylbuphedrone are substitutes for the recently banned drug mephedrone. We find that with conventional proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS), it is not possible to distinguish between these two isomers, because essentially for both substances, only the protonated molecules are observed at a mass-to-charge ratio of 192 (C12 H18 NO(+) ). However, when utilising an advanced PTR-MS instrument that allows us to switch the reagent ions (selective reagent ionisation) from H3 O(+) (which is commonly used in PTR-MS) to NO(+) , O2 (+) and Kr(+) , characteristic product (fragment) ions are detected: C4 H10 N(+) (72 Da) for 4-methylethcathinone and C5 H12 N(+) (86 Da) for N-ethylbuphedrone; thus, selective reagent ionisation MS proves to be a powerful tool for fast detection and identification of these compounds.