Depression of the apparent chiral recognition ability obtained in the host-guest complexation systems by electrospray and nano-electrospray ionization mass spectrometry

Masami Sawada*, Yoshio Takai, Hitoshi Yamada, Muneyoshi Yoshikawa, Ryuichi Arakawa, Hiroyuki Tabuchi, Mikio Takada, Jyuichi Tanaka, Motohiro Shizuma, Hiroshi Yamaoka, Keiji Hirose, Kazuo Fukuda, Yoshito Tobe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Chiral recognition in the host-guest complexation systems of chiral crown ether hosts and amino ester guests was thoroughly examined using the electrospray ionization (ESI) mass spectrometry/enantiomer labeled (EL)-guest method. In this method, the mass spectra of a mixture of three components in a solution, a chiral host (H), an equal amount of an (S)-enantiomer guest labeled with deuterium atoms (GS-dn+) and an unlabeled (R)-enantiomer guest (GR+), were measured and the relative peak intensity value [I(H + GR)+ / I(H + G S-dn)+ = IRIS] of the host-guest complex ions, observed with an excess guest concentration, was taken to provide the chiral recognition ability of the host. In our earlier report (1996), we demonstrated that the apparent chiral recognition abilities using a mass spectrometer with a homemade ESI interface were depressed by about one tenth compared with the corresponding abilities obtained by fast-atom bombardment (FAB) MS. In the present study, the enantioselective complexation behaviors of various combinations of chiral crown hosts with chiral guests were further investigated in detail mainly using a modern commercial ESI/ion trap (IT) mass spectrometer. Consequently, it was found that the apparent IRIS values from the ESI-MS/EL-guest method changed significantly, depending upon the instrument used, and in particular, upon the ESI interfaces. Moreover, under the specific measuring conditions in ESI-IT-MS, the degrees of depression of the apparent chiral recognition abilities are roughly grouped into three classes, depending upon the number (or probably the type) of the hydrophobic substituents of the hosts. Representing the degrees by the slopes when plotting the apparent IRIS values in ESI-MS versus those in FAB-MS, the slopes for the three classes are (1) 1.0, (2) 0.7 and (3) 0.3; the higher the hydrophobicity of the hosts (and then, the host-guest complex ions), the lower the slope (the apparent enantioselectivity). Strengthening the degree of depression may be caused by an increase in the local concentration of the host close to the surface of the droplets produced during the electrospary ionization process. The chiral recognition ability (KR / K S) in an equilibrated solution agrees quite well with the IRIS value in FAB-MS rather than that in ESI-MS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-37
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Mass Spectrometry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Apr 2004


  • Chiral crown ether
  • Chiral recognition
  • Deuterium labeling
  • Electrospray ionization
  • Host-guest complexation

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