Liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry method for quantitative estimation of new imiqualine leads with potent anticancer activities in rat and mouse plasma. Application to a pharmacokinetic study in mice

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Graphical abstractHighlightsNew imiqualine derivatives: EAPB02303 and EAPB02302.Compounds with nanomolar activities against human melanoma cell lines.Development of an LC–MS/MS method to support first preclinical activity studies.LC–MS/MS method validation results in rat and mouse plasma met the acceptance criteria.First pharmacokinetic study of EAPB02303 in healthy mice.Imidazoquinoxaline derivatives (imiqualines) are a new series of anticancer compounds. Two lead compounds (EAPB0203 and EAPB0503) with remarkable in vitro and in vivo activity on melanoma and T-cell lymphomas have been previously identified. The modulation of the chemical structure of the most active compound, EAPB0503, has led to the synthesis of two compounds, EAPB02302 and EAPB02303, 7 and 40 times more active than EAPB0503 against A375 human melanoma cancer cell line, respectively. The aim of this study was to develop and validate a sensitive and accurate liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry method to simultaneously quantify EAPB02303 and its potential active metabolite, EAPB02302, in rat and mouse plasma. Analytes were detected in multiple reaction monitoring acquisition mode using an electrospray ionization detector in positive ion mode. Following a liquid-liquid extraction with ethyl acetate, analytes and internal standard were separated by HPLC reversed-phase on a C18 RP18 Nucleoshell column (2.7 μm, 4.6 × 100 mm). The method was validated according to FDA and EMA Bioanalytical Method Validation guidelines. The robustness of the method was assessed by introducing small variations in nine nominal analytical parameters. Statistical interpretation was performed by mean of the Student’s t-test. Standard curves were generated via unweighted quadratic regression of calibrators (EAPB02303: 1.95–1000 ng/mL, EAPB02302: 7.81–1000 ng/mL in rat plasma; EAPB02303: 0.98–1000 ng/mL, EAPB02302: 1.95–1000 ng/mL in mouse plasma). From the analysis of QC samples, intra- and inter-assay precision and accuracy studies demonstrated %R.S.Ds. <12.5% and percent deviation from nominal concentration <7%. Matrix effects (mean matrix factors from 91.8-108.5% in rat plasma; and from 90.4-102.4% in mouse plasma) and stability assays (recoveries >87%) were acceptable and in accordance with the guidelines. No quantifiable carryover effect was observed. The LLOQs were 1.95 ng/mL for EAPB02303 and 7.81 ng/mL for EAPB02302 in rat plasma, and 0.98 ng/mL and 1.95 ng/mL for the two compounds in mouse plasma, respectively. This method was successfully implemented to support a mouse pharmacokinetic study following a single intraperitoneal administration of EAPB02303 in male C57Bl/6 mice. The obtained pharmacokinetic parameters of EAPB02303 would be useful to optimize the dosing and the rhythm of administration for subsequent preclinical in vivo activity studies.

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