Reversed phase ion-pair chromatography (RP-IPC) of seven heterocyclic aromatic amines encompassing quinoline (IQ, MeIQ), quinoxaline (MeIQx), pyridine (PhIP) and carboline derivatives (AC, Harman, Norharman) was carried out with formate as counter ion in an aqueous eluent with acetonitrile as organic modifier. TSKgel ODS-80TS was used as the stationary phase. With the aim of acquiring a better insight into the mutual influence of ion-pair reagent and the organic modifier upon solute retention, the study was performed by using an experimental design approach able to evidencing the effect of the simultaneous variation of the two factors. A model for the chromatographic behavior of the amines is proposed that includes classical ion-pair mechanism involving formate in the case of MeIQx, PhIP, Harman and Norharman. A competitive ion-exchange mechanism was hypothesized to govern retention of quinoline compounds, whereas electrostatic interactions and hydrogen bond formation with the silanols of the stationary phase were judged to be responsible for the retention of AC. Further, the chromatographic behavior of the analytes using the formic acid-ammonium formate buffer in the mobile phase was compared with that observed using acetic acid-ammonium acetate buffer. The method based on the use of RP IPC with tandem mass spectrometry when the eluent contained formate buffer at pH 2.8 exhibited higher detectability with respect to that achieved using the acetate buffer.
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