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GC-MS and GC-IRD Studies on the Ring Isomers of N-Methyl-2-Methoxyphenyl-3-Butanamines (MPBA) Related to 3 4-MDMA

NCJ Number
Journal of Chromatographic Science Volume: 49 Dated: 2011 Pages: 345-352
Date Published
8 pages

This article reports on the findings and methodology of GC-MS and GC-IRD studies of the ring Isomers of n-methyl-2-methoxyphenyl-3-butanamines (MPBA) related to 3 4-MDMA. 


The mass spectra of the controlled substance 3,4-MDMA and its regioisomer 2,3-MDMA are characterized by an imine fragment base peak at m/z 58 and additional fragments at m/z 135/136 for the methylenedioxybenzyl cation and radical cation, respectively. Three positional ring methoxy isomers of N-methyl-2-(methoxyphenyl)-3-butanamine (MPBA) have an isobaric relationship to 2,3- and 3,4-MDMA. All five compounds have the same molecular weight and produce similar EI mass spectra. This lack of mass spectral specificity for the isomers in addition to the possibility of chromatographic co-elution could result in misidentification. The lack of reference materials for the potential imposter molecules constitutes a significant analytical challenge. Perfluoroacylation of the amine group reduced the nitrogen basicity and provided individual fragmentation pathways for discrimination among these compounds based on unique fragment ions and the relative abundance of common ions. Studies using gas chromatography with infrared detection provided additional structure-IR spectra relationships. The underivatized amines and the perfluoroacylated derivatives (PFPA and HFBA) were resolved by capillary gas chromatography on a 100-percent dimethylpolysiloxane stationary phase. The perfluoroacylated derivatives showed better resolution on a cyclodextrin modified stationary phase. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2011