Advancing Structure Characterization of PS-80 by Charge-Reduced Mass Spectrometry and Software-Assisted Composition Analysis

Published:September 03, 2021DOI:


      The commercially available Polysorbate 80 (PS-80) is a highly heterogeneous product. It is a complex and structurally diverse mixture consisting of polymeric species containing polyoxyethylenes (POEs), fatty acid esters, with/or without a carbohydrate core. The core is primarily sorbitan, with some isosorbide and sorbitol. Depending on the sources of fatty acids and the degrees of esterification, multiple combinations of fatty acid esters are commonly observed. A number of POE intermediates, such as polyoxyethylene glycols, POE-sorbitans, POE-isosorbides, and an array of fatty acid esters from these intermediates remain in the raw material as well. The complex composition of PS-80 is difficult to control and poses a significant characterization challenge for its use in the pharmaceutical industry. Here, we present a novel solution for PS-80 characterization using ultra high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with charge-reduction high resolution mass spectrometry. Post column co-infusion of triethylamine focused the signal into mainly singly charged molecular ions and reduced the extent of in-source fragmentation, resulting in a simpler ion map and enhanced measurement of PS-80 species. The data processing workflow is designed to programmatically identify PS-80 component classes and reduce the burden of manually analyzing complex MS data. The 2-dimensional graphical representation of the data helps visualize these features. Together, these innovative methodologies enabled us to analyze components in PS-80 with unprecedented detail and shall be a useful tool to study formulation and stability of pharmaceutical preparations. The power of this approach was demonstrated by comparing the composition of PS-80 obtained from different vendors.



      PS-80 (Polysorbate 80), HX (multicompendial grade PS-80), SR (super refined grade PS-80), CP (Chinese pharmacopeia grade PS-80), POE (polyoxyethylene), PEG (polyoxyethylene glycol), POE-S (POE-sorbitan), POE-IS (POE-isosorbide), EO (ethylene oxide), RP-LC (reverse phase liquid chromatography), ESI-HRMS (electrospray ionization-high resolution mass spectrometry), RP-UHPLC (reverse phase ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography), TEA (Triethylamine), 2D Ion Density Map (2-dimensional mass spectrometry ion density map)
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