Structural analysis of diols by electrospray mass spectrometry on boric acid complexes
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A method is presented to characterize diols using negative ion electrospray (ES) mass spectrometry in combination with collision-induced dissociation tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). The analyte diol is added to a solution containing an ethylene glycol/boric acid [2:1] complex and then subjected to infusion ES. The following boric acid complexes are formed: (i) a complex with two ethylene glycol molecules, (ii) a mixed ethylene glycol/analyte complex, and (iii) a complex with two analyte molecules. The first complex serves as a reference for the assessment of the extent of complex formation with the analyte. The ES mass spectra of acyclic vicinal diols all feature intense mixed complex signals, indicative of efficient complex formation. Chemical fine tuning is achieved by MS/MS experiments. Thus, although the (2R,3R)-(-)-2,3-butanediol and meso-2,3-butanediol stereo-isomers show the same complexation efficiency, MS/MS experiments reveal pronounced structure characteristic differences. By contrast, 1,3- and 1,4-diols are less prone to complex formation as they give only weak signals relative to the reference. For cyclic vicinal diols only the cis isomer produces an intense mixed complex, whose MS/MS spectrum is characteristically different from that of the trans form. The above procedure does not permit an unambiguous differentiation of acyclic polyhydroxy compounds like mannitol and sorbitol. However, structurally related methyl glycosides show characteristic MS/MS spectra. Our findings indicate that the above simple procedure may be useful to probe the presence and structure of diols and other polyols in aqueous solutions. Copyright 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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