Alternative mass spectrometry techniques for the validation of the fragmentation pattern of capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin Article uri icon


  • Rationale: Capsaicinoids are prevalent secondary metabolites in many natural and synthetic pharmacological compounds. To date, several soft ionization studies related to capsaicinoids have been reported; they all proposed a common fragmentation pattern based on a rearrangement of the aromatic double bonds and the fragmentation of the various positional acyl chains. However, the mechanism has never been validated by high-resolution analyses. Consequently, in this work, a validated fragmentation mechanism of the main capsaicinoids, capsaicin (1) and dihydrocapsaicin (2), is offered. Methods: In order to propose and validate a common electron ionization (EI) fragmentation mechanism for the target analytes, the following mass spectrometric methods were employed: collision-induced dissociation (CID) by means of linked scans (LS), reinforcing the methodology by high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS), in addition to appropriate deuterium-labeled experiments performed using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) and direct analysis in real time (DART). Results: In a first stage, a common EI fragmentation pattern comprising two pathways was proposed for compounds 1 and 2; then, the suggested mechanism was validated by CID-LS together with HRMS complemented by DART-deuterium-labeling studies. The obtained results are indicative that the corresponding molecular ions were conveniently observed, m/z 305 and m/z 307; it is worth noting that the common base peak is in correspondence with a tropylium ion derivative (m/z 137), as a consequence of a McLafferty rearrangement. In addition to these highlighted fragments, other common ions, m/z 122 and m/z 94, and their corresponding trajectory, were confirmed using the same approach. Finally, the proposed mechanism was complementarily validated by deuterium-labeling studies, taking into account the two exchangeable hydrogens present in the phenolic and the amidic moieties. Conclusions: A common validated EI fragmentation pattern for both capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin was established using appropriated mass spectrometric methods together with convenient hydrogen/deuterium labeling. This study provides a new alternative to validate mechanisms of fragmentation of important natural products. © 2019 John Wiley %26 Sons, Ltd.

publication date

  • 2019-01-01