A Strategy for Assessing Peak Purity of Pharmaceutical Peptides in Reversed-Phase Chromatography Methods using Two-Dimensional Liquid Chromatography Coupled to Mass Spectrometry. Part I: Selection of Columns and Mobile Phases

Petersson, Patrik; Buckenmaier, Stephan; Euerby, Melvin R. and Stoll, Dwight R. (2023). A Strategy for Assessing Peak Purity of Pharmaceutical Peptides in Reversed-Phase Chromatography Methods using Two-Dimensional Liquid Chromatography Coupled to Mass Spectrometry. Part I: Selection of Columns and Mobile Phases. Journal of Chromatography A, 1693, article no. 463874.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chroma.2023.463874

Abstract

The current study describes the development of a 2D-LC-MS-based strategy for assessing main peak purity in the analysis of pharmaceutical peptides. The focus is on 2D-LC using reversed-phase (RP) separations in both dimensions, and particularly peptide isomer selectivity, since compounds with the same mass to charge ratio are not readily differentiated by mass spectrometry and therefore must be separated chromatographically. Initially, 30 column / mobile phase combinations were evaluated for both general separation performance (i.e., selectivity and peak shape) and isomer selectivity using forcibly degraded peptide samples and mixtures of synthetic diastereomers. A ranking of more than 300 UV and MS chromatograms suggests that when developing a new method, screening a set of four columns and four volatile mobile phases with differing characteristics should be adequate to both cover the selectivity space, and yield good separation performance. When 2D-LC-MS is to be used to evaluate peak purity for a new method, our results show that a second-dimension separation comprising a C8/C18 column possessing no ionic functionality, and an acetic acid / ammonium acetate mobile phase buffered at pH 5, provides good selectivity at 25 °C for peptide isomers with a MW <10 kDa.

Retention data for 29 diverse peptides (1 < MW < 14 kDa, 3.7 < pI < 12.5) measured in this study using a variety of column and mobile phase conditions (i.e., 30 in total) are consistent with the classification of these various chromatographic conditions using the previously reported Peptide RPC Column Characterisation Protocol. For the investigated peptides trifluoroacetic acid was found to reduce selectivity differences between columns of diverse properties, probably due to its potential to form ion-pairs with peptides. Trifluoroacetic acid often improves peak shape for very large peptides (i.e. MW > 10 kDa). In the current dataset which also contain smaller peptides it received the highest ranking for 40% of the column and mobile phase combinations due to better selectivity and/or peak shape.

The reported work here constitutes part one of a series of two papers. The second paper focuses on the use of retention modelling for rapid and accurate selection of the shallow gradients (i.e., << 1% ACN/min) required to obtain sufficient peptide isomer retention and separation in the second dimension. The overall results presented in this series of papers provides the guidance needed to develop a 2D-LC-MS method from start to finish for the analysis of main peak purity of therapeutic peptides.

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