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Open Access Research article

Induced in-source fragmentation pattern of certain novel (1Z,2E)-N-(aryl)propanehydrazonoyl chlorides by electrospray mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS)

Ali S Abdelhameed*, Mohamed W Attwa, Hatem A Abdel-Aziz and Adnan A Kadi

Author Affiliations

Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, King Saud University, P.O. Box 2457, Riyadh 11451, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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Chemistry Central Journal 2013, 7:16  doi:10.1186/1752-153X-7-16

Published: 25 January 2013



Collision induced dissociation (CID) in the triple quadrupole mass spectrometer system (QQQ) typically yields more abundant fragment ions than those produced with resonance excitation in the presence of helium gas in the ion trap mass spectrometer system (IT). Detailed product ion spectra can be obtained from one stage MS2 scan using the QQQ. In contrast, generating the same number of fragment ions in the ion trap requires multiple stages of fragmentation (MSn) using CID via in-trap resonance excitation with the associated time penalties and drop in sensitivity.


The use of in-source fragmentation with electrospray ionization (ESI) followed by product ion scan (MS2) in a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer system, was demonstrated. This process enhances the qualitative power of tandem mass spectrometry to simulate the MS3 of ion trap for a comprehensive study of fragmentation mechanisms. A five pharmacologically significant (1Z, 2E)-N-arylpropanehydrazonoyl chlorides (3a-e) were chosen as model compounds for this study. In this work, detailed fragmentation pathways were elucidated by further dissociation of each fragment ion in the ion spectrum, essentially, by incorporating fragmentor voltage induced dissociation (in-source fragmentation) and isolation of fragments in a quadrupole cell Q1. Subsequently, CID occurs in cell, Q2, and fragment ions are analyzed in Q3 operated in product ion mode this process can be referred to as pseudo-MS3 scan mode.


This approach allowed unambiguous assignment of all fragment ions using tandem mass spectrometer and provided adequate sensitivity and selectivity. It is beneficial for structure determination of unknown trace components. The data presented in this paper provide useful information on the effect of different substituents on the ionization/fragmentation processes and can be used in the characterization of this important class of compounds.

In-source fragmentation; Hydrazones; Fragmentor voltage; Electrospray ionization

Graphical abstract