Structural identification of imatinib cyanide adducts by mass spectrometry and elucidation of bioactivation pathway




Recent publications have reported that imatinib forms cyanide and methoxylamine adducts in vitro but without detail structural identification. The current work reports the identification of seven cyanide adducts that elucidate the bioactivation pathways and may provide hints for observed clinical adverse effects of the drug.


Imatinib was incubated with human liver microsomal proteins in the presence of a NADPH-regeneration system and the trapping agents reduced GSH, potassium cyanide and methoxylamine. Samples were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) coupled with a LTQ-Orbitrap data collection system. Chemical structures were determined and/or postulated based on data-dependent high-resolution tandem mass spectrometric (MSn) exact mass measurements in both positive and negative scan modes, as well as in combination with hydrogen-deuterium exchange (HDX).


GSH and methoxylamine conjugates were either not detected or were in insufficient quantities for characterization. However, seven cyanide conjugates were identified, indicating that the piperazine and p-toluidine partial structures in imatinib can become bioactivated and subsequently trapped by the nucleophile cyanide ion. The reactive intermediates were postulated as imine and imine-carbonyl conjugate (α,β-unsaturated) structures on the piperazine ring, and imine-methide on the p-toluidine partial structure.


Chemical structures of seven cyanide adducts of imatinib have been identified or proposed based on high-resolution MS/MS data. Mechanisms for the formation of the conjugates were also proposed. The findings may help to understand the mechanism of hepatotoxicity of imatinib in humans. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.