Simultaneous quantification of terpenes and cannabinoids by reversed-phase LC-APCI-MS/MS in Cannabis sativa L. samples combined with a subsequent chemometric analysis


Anal Bioanal Chem. 2024 May 25. doi: 10.1007/s00216-024-05349-y. Online ahead of print.


Cannabis sativa L. has been the most discussed medicinal plant in recent years. In particular, the dynamic shift from a formerly illicit and tightly controlled substance to a plant recognized for both medicinal and recreational purposes has brought C. sativa into the global spotlight. Due to the ongoing international legalization processes, fast and convenient analytical methods for the quality control of C. sativa flowers for medicinal and recreational purposes are of tremendous interest. In this study, we report the development and validation of a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS)-based method applying atmospheric pressure chemical ionization (APCI) to fully quantify 16 terpenes and 7 cannabinoids including their acidic forms by a single chromatographic method. The method presented here is unique and simple, as it eliminates the need for derivatization reactions and includes the unconventional analysis of volatile compounds by liquid chromatography. Samples were prepared by a simple and fast ethanolic extraction. Separation was accomplished within 25 min on a reversed-phase C18 column. Method validation was conducted according to international guidelines regarding selectivity, accuracy, precision, robustness, and linearity. Detection was done in multiple reaction monitoring, which allowed the simultaneous quantification of co-eluting analytes applying two selective mass transitions. In addition, due to reproducible in-source decarboxylation, the acidic forms of cannabinoids were reliably quantified using mass transitions of the neutral forms. The accuracy given as the bias was below 15% for all analytes. Matrix effects for cannabinoids were studied by spiking Humulus lupulus extracts with the analytes at varying concentrations. APCI did not show susceptibility toward ion suppression or enhancement. In addition, the recovery effect after spiking was between 80 and 120% for terpenes. Further, 55 authentic C. sativa extracts were fully quantified, and the obtained results for the terpene profiles were compared to state-of-the-art gas chromatography coupled to flame ionization detection. Comparable results were achieved, emphasizing the method’s applicability for cannabinoids and terpenes. Further, acquired metabolite patterns for C. sativa samples were studied, identifying a relationship between cannabinoid and terpene patterns, as well as the abundance of myrcene in CBD-dominant C. sativa strains.

PMID:38795214 | DOI:10.1007/s00216-024-05349-y