High sensitivity LC-MS profiling of antibody-drug conjugates with difluoroacetic acid ion pairing

Jennifer M Nguyen, Jacquelynn Smith, Susan Rzewuski, Cristina Legido-Quigley, Matthew A Lauber

26 Citationer (Scopus)


Reversed-phase liquid chromatography (RPLC) separations of proteins using optical detection generally use trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) because it is a strong, hydrophobic acid and a very effective ion-pairing agent for minimizing chromatographic secondary interactions. Conversely and in order to avoid ion suppression, analyses entailing mass spectrometry (MS) detection is often performed with a weaker ion-pairing modifier, like formic acid (FA), but resolution quality may be reduced. To gain both the chromatographic advantages of TFA and the enhanced MS sensitivity of FA, we explored the use of an alternative acid, difluoroacetic acid (DFA). This acid modifier is less acidic and less hydrophobic than TFA and is believed to advantageously affect the surface tension of electrospray droplets. Thus, it is possible to increase MS sensitivity threefold by replacing TFA with DFA. Moreover, we have observed DFA ion pairing to concomitantly produce higher chromatographic resolution than FA and even TFA. For this reason, we prepared and used MS-quality DFA in place of FA and TFA in separations involving IdeS digested, reduced NIST mAb and a proprietary antibody-drug conjugate (ADC), aiming to increase sensitivity, resolution and protein recovery. The resulting method using DFA was qualified and applied to two other ADCs and gave heightened sensitivity, resolution and protein recovery versus analyses using TFA. This new method, based on a purified, trace metal free DFA, can potentially become a state-of-the-art liquid chromatography-MS technique for the deep characterization of ADCs.

Udgave nummer8
Sider (fra-til)1358-1366
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 10 sep. 2019


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