Electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry fragmentation of protonated flavone and flavonol aglycones: a re-examination

Gonçalo C Justino, DQ Group Author

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Flavonoids are important phytochemicals which have been intensively studied in the last decades in view of their antioxidant activity, which is of particular importance in the case of flavones and flavonols, that differ in a single 3-OH group. Mass spectrometry has been used to elucidate the structures of many types of flavonoids and their metabolites. The work we present here is focused on the electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS) analysis of flavone and flavonols aglycones. Their fragmentation mechanisms in the positive ion mode are described and compared with previously reported mechanisms. We analyzed flavonoid derivatives produced by reaction of the flavonoids with chemically synthesized hypohalous acids (HOCl, HOBr and HOI) and peroxynitrite, reactive species involved in the inflammatory response. All the proposed pathways have been analyzed using computational chemistry methods in order to seek for possible variations and establish the most plausible ones. We observed that the losses of one and two CO molecules can be useful in terms of antioxidant activity prediction. Losses of one and two C2H2O groups are also informative in terms of structure and activity predictions. The retro-Diels-Aider fragmentations, and subsequent neutral losses, were reviewed and, according to our calculations, the most plausible structures for the product ions were established. These fingerprints will be of great value for differentiating flavonoids from other compounds in complex biological mixtures and for a thorough structural identification of flavonoid aglycones and their in vivo metabolites. Copyright (C) 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-248
JournalRapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2009


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