NMR and mass spectrometric characterization of vinblastine, vincristine and some new related impurities – Part I

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In the course of exploring the possibilities of developing a new, improved process at Gedeon Richter for the production of the “bisindole” alkaloids vinblastine (VLB) and vincristine (VCR), some novel VLB/VCR-related trace impurities were detected by analytical HPLC. Following isolation by preparative HPLC, a combination of 1D and 2D ultra high-field NMR and high-resolution (HR) (LC-)MS/MS studies allowed the structural identification and complete spectral characterization of several hitherto unpublished VLB/VCR-analogue impurities. Since the impurities could not be isolated in entirely pure forms and were available only in minute, mass-limited quantities, accessing the spectral information needed for their ab initio structure determination was met with various practical difficulties. Successful structure determination therefore relied heavily on the availability and use of detailed and definitive spectral data for both VLB and VCR. In particular, the utilization of detailed 1H, 13C, and 15N NMR assignments as well as 1H–1H, 1H–13C and 1H–15N spin–spin connectivities pertaining to different solvents for VLB/VCR base and sulphate salt was required. Although NMR studies on VLB base and other bisindoles were reported earlier in the literature, an NMR characterization of VLB and VCR under the above-mentioned circumstances and using ultra-high field instrumentation is either scarcely available or entirely lacking, therefore the necessary data had to be obtained in-house. Likewise, a modern tandem HR-ESI-MS/MSn fragmentation study of VLB and VCR has not been published yet. In the present paper we therefore give a thorough NMR and MS characterization of VLB and VCR specifically with a view to filling this void and to provide sufficiently extensive and solid reference data for the structural investigation of the aforementioned VLB/VCR impurities. Besides being scientifically relevant in its own right, the disclosed data should be useful for anyone interested in VLB/VCR-related molecules at a structural level.

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